Sports have been an integral part of American culture for decades. Baseball was once dubbed “America’s Pastime,” the NBA was the topic of conversation in the 1970s and 1980s, and the NFL has reigned supreme for a few years, and even 11 million people self-report that they enjoy skateboarding on a consistent basis. Sports aren’t going anywhere and the future will surely be filled with these traditional favorites, but there might be some brand new additions.
Drone sports are quickly becoming the sport of the future.
The Federal Aviation Administration predicts that by the year 2020, there will be approximately 7 million drones flying across the United States. Though there are hundreds dozens of uses for these aerial devices, competitive drone battling and racing are surly the most entertaining to watch.
“Drone racing essentially means that a pilot can shift their consciousness into the aircraft, flying through tiny gaps without any fear of physical danger,” said Chris Ballard, Director of Communication at Freedom Class Racing.
According to SingularityHub, since its launch in 2015, Drone Racing League’s races have been viewed on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube over 43 million times. DRL events have even been showcased on TV networks and the league expects TV viewership in about 75 countries.
“Drone racing growth is, in part, thanks to technology advancements like miniaturisation and falling cost of electronics, which make flight controllers and drones significantly more affordable,” added Ballard. “The same goes for battery and motor systems.”
Another reason this sport is becoming increasingly popular is the growth within the virtual reality and FPV (first person view) technology. Viewers can either watch each drone race like traditional spectator sports, or they can equip themselves with high-tech FPV goggles and view the race through the eye’s of the drone pilot.
“Part of the fascination is seeing drones whiz around at 80 miles an hour,” said Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO and founder of the DRL. “Racing enthusiasts also appreciate that this is the first true form of racing in three dimensions.”
Though these exciting drone races will continue to grow each year, drone fighting is gaining some viewership as well.
“It started out being a bunch of geeky maker friends who would meet up in someone’s garage on Friday nights to fly drones and smash them together in battles,” said Marque Cornblatt, CEO of Aerial Sports League.
These Friday night garage events grew to battles with 200 spectators in large factory buildings and even stadiums.
“The rise of VR in the living room could provide an incredibly immersive racing experience unlike anything the world has seen,” added Dave Heavyside, Creative Director at Freedom Class Racing. “At [live events], we are already seeing stadium sports go deeper with fan engagement via full stadium Wi-Fi.
Even major sporting companies are betting on the future of competitive drone racing and battling. ESPN and GoPro are now sponsoring and showcasing drone sporting events.