The closest thing to Star Wars style podracing is here

Posted on January 28th, 2016 by Cici

The drones in the newly-formed Drone Racing League can achieve speeds of 80 mph while racing outdoors or in stadiums. Image from wired.com.

When did the first car race take place? As soon as the second car was built. Now, this type of mentality has emerged on drone scene. For years, hobbyists have been racing their modified robots, with the aid of special goggles that deliver first-person views from their drone’s forward-facing camera.

But the backyard sport has been taken a whole new level, with the backing of the Drone Racing League. The DRL is pooling the world’s top drone pilots for a five-race season culminating in a championship event. The first event was held at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dolphins (Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is an investor in the league, by the way).

The video below shows a test run in the tricked out stadium, where pilots must navigate their drones through illuminated gates, tunnels and hallways. The average speed through the run was about 55 mph, with top speeds hitting 80.

A drone racing pilot operates the vehicle via video goggles that displays a first-person view of the drone’s flight. Image from time.com.

Pair those speeds with the fact that crashes are frequent and quite frankly, inevitable, and you have an interesting problem for trying to turn it into a viable spectator sport. However, if the footage of a dry run is any indicator, the races are incredibly fun to watch (from a screen) and if you are not too prone to motion sickness, the on-board views are very pod-racer-ish. The last time we were treated to video like this was in the movies and video games.

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