Drone racing – Serious technology or kids’ stuff?


Drone racing is becoming a major type of competition with some serious prize money. While some sceptics might think that this is something that only appeals to teenage nerds, the powers that be within the technology industry will disagree.


This year’s London Tech Week will feature the UK’s first professional drone race at Alexandra Palace. Not only does this suggest the high regard that the technology world holds for drone racing but the fact that Sky Sports will also be showing coverage, could be an insight into the future demand for this as a sport going forward.


The Drone Racing League has been growing momentum regarding interest with some big businesses such as ESPN and Sky Sports getting in on the action. Another drone racing league called DR1 recently forged a partnership with Mountain Dew to broadcast a series of drone races as a way to give the advertiser exposure to a highly desirable demographic audience. With large competition prizes for winners, as well as sponsorship opportunities for competitive pilots, it is safe to say that drone racing cannot be viewed as a teenage hobby in the way that playing with remote control cars and airplanes are.


Related to the growing phenomenon of drone racing is FPV (first person view) freestyle flight, which is essentially content created by a drone racing pilot flying a racing drone in a scenic location and not as part of a competitive race.  Essentially, the speed and manoeuvrability of a racing drone and the flying skill of the pilot are used to create FPV videos by flying over beaches, in the mountains, and other scenic locations.   These FPV freestyle videos make for some amazing and highly entertaining content.


Some of the top drone racing and FPV freestyle partners are starting to garner significant media attention.  The very top pilots can become true professionals with six figure salaries on offer for the very best of them.   Coverage of large drone racing events such as the Drone Nationals race in New York last summer generated a veritable storm of media attention with prominent articles in media outlets such as the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and ABC News.  As more and more mainstream sponsors look to drone racing as a means to reach a young and tech-savvy audience, a number of resources are available to compensate the top pilots and produce higher quality races as the industry continues to grow.


Drone racing will probably become even more popular as drones start to become more affordable for all, and many more people become experienced in piloting drones. You can even go on a course to quickly learn how to pilot a drone and start using it for commercial purposes. Whether you become a professional drone racer or you want to capture videos for profit, the opportunities that drones provide seem almost endless. In response to the initial question, drones are serious technology and nothing like kid’s stuff.