Remember those pods being used for the races in Tatooine in Star Wars? This may be as close as we can get to it in real life. The world has just formed its first drone racing league, where racers fly drones using video goggles connected through radio to the drone.
It’s a rising sport that is slowly gaining global attention—in fact, it’s first US national drone racing championship just wrapped up last summer in California; although only a few were brave enough to weather the heat to catch it.
Most recently, the Drone Racing League (DRL) just announced its inaugural racing season where it hopes to become the NASCAR, Formula 1, or MotoGP of drone racing.
Backing this initiative are venture capital firms as well as celebrities including Muse frontman, Matt Bellamy.
The challenges that this fledgling sport faces are most technical at this point. For instance, the video feed between the drone and the goggles attached to the racer is very grainy as higher quality high definition videos cause the feeds to lag. This can lead to racers experiencing acute motion sickness.
To that end, the DRL proposes that races should, for now at least, not be viewed live by the audience.
Races are set to be hosted in closed-door locations such as the Dolphins’ stadium where the first official race was held. The second one is scheduled to be held at an abandoned mall in Los Angeles. After each race, DRL will produce a series of videos that will be aired for audiences.
And because every sport requires rules, the DRL is taking it upon themselves to codify what professional drone racing entails. Currently, the league is building drones from scratch that each pilot can use, rather than having racers use their own, to level the playing field and ensure that no pilot has a technical advantage over another.
The DRl has already raised “more than $8 million” in funding but it still remains to be seen how the public will respond to this new form of racing or whether audiences will respond to DRL's proposed format.