The new sci-fi sport finds a global audience.
Drones initially became popular among athletes and adventurers for their ability to record unique video. But today, drone racing is becoming a sport in its own right.
Nick Horbaczewski, CEO and founder of the Drone Racing League, has likened the drone racing experience to real-life video gaming. As pilots navigate their drones through various courses—ranging from abandoned malls to NFL stadiums—they are fitted with first-person viewing goggles, and see exactly what the cameras fitted on their drones see. His company held its first official race in Miami in December 2015, and will release videos of the event to viewers this month.
“It is absolutely unique to drone racing that you can race through an abandoned mall where you’re cutting between floors and cutting between holes in the walls,” Horbaczewski said. “You can truly race in three dimensions.”
This new tech-centred sport has already spread around the world, with RotorCross NZ establishing itself as New Zealand’s first drone racing league, and aerial photography company Flying Mikes looking to organize the Netherlands’ first drone racing event. Latin America also saw its first drone race a few weeks ago in Chile.
With the market for commercial drones forecasted to grow 19% between 2015 and 2020, brands can take advantage of this digital extreme sport in various ways, from event sponsorship to connecting with brand ambassadors.
Moreover, with eSports gaining in popularity among Generation Z, drone racing holds particular promise for brands hoping to target the younger demographic.