AI News, BOOK REVIEW: Is Drone Racing the Next Consumer Fad? Game of Drones Hopes So

Is Drone Racing the Next Consumer Fad? Game of Drones Hopes So

Next year, Game of Drones will move beyondkits for do-it-yourselfersand bring out a ready-to-fly racing drone, Cornblatt said last week, speaking to a crowd of investors, journalists, and other entrepreneurs attending the Highway 1 accelerator’s demo day.

And the system will require the user to complete a series of “flight school” lessons before turning over complete control, so “you don’t immediately crash your drone onto the White House lawn,” he says.

Cornblatt thinks drone racing, and other drone games, are going to be a huge market, and may even turn drone gaming into a spectator sport, as has happened with video gaming, or “e-sports.” Cornblatt had mockups of the FST on hand at Highway 1’s demo day, but refused to let them be photographed;

A startup thinks racing and fighting your friends' drones could be the next great outdoor sport

Game of Drones founder Marque Cornblatt laid out his vision for drone sports in a Demo Day presentation at Highway1, a hardware startup accelerator run by international electronics part maker PCH.

In fact, Game of Drones has been running drone fight clubs and racing leagues in and around San Francisco since 2012, turning warehouses into Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrone with warring remote control quadcopters.

The FST will include a camera, a screen in the controller, and a 'flight school' training program for people to hone their drone-flying skills even when they're not on the practice field.

Plus, the FST will let the drone directly broadcast battle video to competitive drone flying enthusiasts all over the world.

Going forward, Cornblatt says that he hopes his drones will emulates the success of professional competitive video gaming —

Why the Fast-Paced World of Drone Sports Is Getting So Popular

Piloting your drone aircraft through an intricate, Star Wars-like obstacle course or ramming an enemy to the ground in a dogfight—sounds slightly like science fiction, doesn’t it?

They are part of the rapidly expanding ecosystem of drone sports, which looks set to follow the growth trajectory of the hugely popular world of live video gaming known as eSports.

“Drone racing essentially means that a pilot can shift their consciousness into the aircraft, flying through tiny gaps without any fear of physical danger,” Chris Ballard, director of communication at Freedom Class drones, explains.

The size solves one of the challenges of live drone races—the fact that following the action and finding out who is actually in the lead can be difficult when the competing craft are roughly the size of a shoebox.

Then there’s DR1 Racing, whose races air on TV channels like Eurosport and Discovery Channel, and MultiGP, which is likely the biggest drone racing organizer based on number of registered pilots (16,195) and chapters (1,041) around the world.

Many organizers actively encourage entry-level drones as a starting point because part of the learning process of drone racing invariably involves crashing—at speed.

Newzoo, an eSports analysis company, has projected the growth of both global audience and revenue in eSports, and given the similarities to drone sports, it may provide a useful benchmark for growth potential.

Cornblatt and his compatriots decided to form the Aerial Sports League (ASL), which today hosts a range of different drone sports events, including one that is perhaps best likened to a UFC of drone combat with added pit crews.

Much of the innovation is ground-up, coming from the grass roots of the fledgling sport, where many—if not all—pilots and drone league organizers have learned how to repair and upgrade drones out of sheer necessity.

This link to the maker/hacker movement will stand drone sports in good stead, as they still face technical challenges, including how to improve the quality of FPV-view and broadcast it beyond the physical location.

“We get emails from high school teachers about how drones are helping them reach the students and from high school students saying thanks for getting them interested in science.

Once kids / students get to work figuring out how drones work and how you can improve them, they don’t even realize that they’re learning things like mechanical engineering, electronics and aerodynamics,” Nicholas Horbaczewski says.

The 21st-Century Sport—Yes, Sport—of Drone Racing

They hope to build the league into an organizing body and entertainment property, setting up live races, streaming battles and racing showdowns live on the Internet, and advocating for drone sports across the country—with a special focus on convincing both kids and adults to start building their own gear, the exact mission of the Maker Faire event.

Combat Drones That Are Built for Bashing Into One Another

The ASL, which hosts drone combat, drone racing, and freestyle demos at events across the US, was born out of a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014.

A full kit, which consists of the airframe, the motors, the speed controllers, the flight and power boards, and four propellers, costs about $400.

They can smash into one other (and the ground) without incurring any damage other than a broken propellor or two, and competitions involve battling it out in a 30-by-30-foot, 25-foot tall netted "pit."

If both drones get grounded after a midair collision, it's a push and neither competitor loses a point.

Pockets loaded with extra propellers, pliers, and zip ties, they have 90 seconds to repair their drone and get it back up in the air for the next round.

That usually involves replacing a propeller, but in case they need to do deeper work, the Game of Drones kit involves a little pop-top that gives them access to internal components quickly.