There's something extremely primal about racing. The competition, speed and cheers from the crowd are all part of the fun, but a new technological shift has pushed this pastime into uncharted territory. Drone racing is quickly becoming a major event for pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles, and for good reason. These gadgets can move incredibly fast, and the introduction of first-person view allows people to put themselves right in the race without actually having to endanger themselves.
However, getting into this hobby can be a little difficult if you don't have the proper knowledge. To that end, let's dive into everything you need to know about drone racing.
There's a huge push in popularity
Drone ownership overall is increasing by leaps and bounds. In fact, MarketsandMarkets has predicted the commercial drone market to reach $5.59 billion by 2020, which is more than a 32 percent compound annual growth rate over the 2015 estimates. These fun little devices are carving out a place for themselves in modern culture, and racing is certainly helping to push this growth.
People all over the world have begun to discover just how fun zipping around in personally-owned UAVs can be. In fact, the first World Drone Prix was held in Dubai on March 11 and 12, 2016. Fortune contributor John Gaudiosi reported that the prizes for this particular competition totaled a whopping $1 million.
What was most interesting about this competition was the fact that contestants came from every corner of the globe. More than 100 participants gathered for this event after having passed through qualifying rounds in places such as Seoul, Los Angeles and Berlin, according to Gaudiosi. Clearly, this hobby isn't contained to a single country and will only grow in popularity. As UAVs become cheaper and more experts are available to train novices, more people will continue to flock toward drone racing.
Safety comes first
As with any sort of competition, the safety of every person involved is of the highest priority. However, unlike more physical sports like football, the spectators are generally the ones at risk of being injured. People watching drone races are clumped together, which means a rogue UAV has a higher chance of hitting them rather than a pilot.
"The spectators are generally the ones at risk in drone racing."
Regardless, safety is obviously important, which is why the Drone Racing League has announced that it will be working to standardize racing in a way that ensures the protection of both pilots and spectators. A press release from DRL stated that the organization has created DroneRacingSafety.org, a site dedicated to teaching racing enthusiasts the ins and outs of the hobby.
"As the popularity of FPV flight grows globally, it has become more and more necessary to establish best-in-class protocols to ensure racing events are held in a safe manner," DRL founder and CEO Nicholas Horbaczewski stated in the press release. "We believe it's important to use DRL's leadership in the FPV industry to provide extensive information on racing safety, freely available to all pilots and event organizers, based on our deep investment in developing and codifying robust safety standards."
Basically, this site emphasizes the importance of planning, procedure and production when setting up a drone racing event. DRL gives information on drone maintenance, proper retrieval of downed UAVs as well as examples of safety situations and what to do when something goes wrong. There's even a guide on how to set up racing courses.
FPV is great, but take it slow
Of course, one of the major draws of drone racing is the use of FPV. Watching the drone's video feed on a tablet or smartphone is certainly possible, but there's simply nothing like strapping on some goggles and losing yourself as you watch the scenery whip by your drone. However, it's important to note that novices might want to take it slow here. Kevin Vecchione, a drone enthusiast, told the Albany Times that new pilots often have trouble with FPV.
"It's not uncommon for first timers wearing the goggles to fall over," Vecchione said. "We learned that lesson quick when taking people for rides so we request that they sit down now."
If you've never used FPV goggles, it's hard to imagine just how easy it is to lose touch with reality. For the safety of drone and your dignity, you should probably slowly ease yourself into this technology.
Receive proper training
The downside to drone racing is the exact same as the sport's major draw: speed. Due to the intense velocity of racing drones, even a single crash could irreparably damage your device. Even though drones are getting cheaper all the time, that's an incredibly expensive mistake to make. So, before you begin your racing career, you're probably going to want to receive some training from an experienced pilot first.
Thankfully, receiving this coaching has never been easier. The drone experts at 500 Below are incredibly knowledgeable, and they're always excited to help new pilots get into the hobby. The training programs offered through our platform will help give you the skills necessary to begin racing your drone at top speeds. What's more, our coaches are paid for every session they perform, and anyone with the prerequisite preparation can help bring novices into the fold. This means that you too can be paid to train people as soon as you learn enough to pass on your talents.
Drone racing is incredibly fun, so get trained and don't let this trend pass you by!