What is drone racing?
A number of racing drone leagues have taken prominence since around 2015. Drone racing involves drone pilots racing their incredibly quick and agile drones around a set course or racing circuit with FPV goggles, as quickly as possible. There are variants of this format for the races depending on the drone racing league.
These are some of the major drone racing leagues and associations around the globe.
DRL: Drone Racing League
The Drone Racing League is the premier professional elite drone global racing league. The first season of the DRL took place in 2016 and it is broadcast on several major TV networks such as ESPN, Sky Sports, FOX Sports Asia, and Disney XD. Up until the end of the 2018 season, which featured 7 global races, human drone pilots would race DRL custom drones via FPV.
All DRL drones used are identical in specifications and manufactured exclusively by the DRL, with the Racer2 used in 2016 and the Racer3 in 2017 and 2018. This ensures the best drone pilots should win based on their skill and not the model of a drone. These drones are not currently available to consumers.
The number or drone pilot racers is limited (18 pilots compete but only the top 10 qualify for the DRL Championship). Furthermore, successful drone pilots can earn up to around $100,000 USD per season.
The 2019 series sees the introduction of Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR). In this format, autonomous drones (run by university students) will race, with the season consisting of four AI vs. AI drone races. In the season finale, the DRL will seed human-piloted drones vs. AI drones.
DCL: Drone Champions League
The Drone Champions League features race events throughout Europe and in China called Drone Prix. More than half a dozen teams, each with multiple professional drone pilots from the US, Europe, and Asia, compete in the DCL. The series consists of teams competing in 1 vs. 1 time trials and a 4 vs. 4 team event, with winners progressing to the final via the knockout stages.
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MultiGP drone racing
MultiGP is the largest professional drone racing league globally and represents more than 20,000 drone pilots and 500 drone racing chapters. The organization hosts competitive and casual events and has sought to bring stable and reliable categories and rules to drone racing.
Some of the services it offers are to provide members with tools, advice, and support for racing events, and setting up charters globally. MultiGP organized the 2018 US National MultiGP Drone Racing Championship, as well regional championships and the 2019 MultiGP International Open.
Rotor Match League
This French-based drone racing league organizes events and provides streaming, timekeeping, and race solutions. Rotor Match League organizes 3 drone racing series: 150 SERIES (indoor), 250 SERIES (outdoor), and an E-Sport SERIES (virtual).
FREESPACE Drone Racing
Australia-based FREESPACE aims to launch the first series in 2020 which involves large and powerful UAVS in a drone racing league. The organizers also operate the FS500 league for mid-size (500 mm) racing drones. These events are aimed at live audiences and broadcasts.
In 2017, they partnered with the FAI (“Fédération Aéronautique Internationale” or World Air Sports Federation) to organize multiple international drone racing events and help professionalize the sport.
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