Space & Innovation

Forget About Football, Let's Race Drones

They're calling drone racing the sport of the future. Better grab a controller. Continue reading →

A lot of offbeat activities have been called "the sport of the future," but for once the moniker actually fits. Professional drone racing pits quadcopter pilots against each other in epic high-speed races.

Grab a controller - it's going to be a wild ride.

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Nicholas Horbaczewski, who was previously an executive at the Tough Mudder obstacle course series, founded the Drone Racing League as a way to create exciting new races. He's even got serious investors.

Here's how it works: Each competing pilot wears first person view goggles connected to the drone's camera. They use controllers to maneuver their drones around large, tricky courses, steering from the drone's viewpoint.

9 Stunning Aerial Images Captured by Drones: Photos

The racing drones are standard lightweight quadcopters nearly 10 inches in size that have front-mounted cameras. Everything moves fast: These drones can even hit 120 miles per hour. Slightly larger aerial photography drones also fly around, capturing footage - like spectacular crashes.

In July, top drone pilots from around the world gathered at an abandoned power station near the Hudson River for the League's dicy, obstacle-laden Gates of Hell test event. Last week the League announced the launch of its first official racing circuit, which starts later this month.

Crazy Car-Sized Drone Flies a Person Autonomously

"A lot of people who've seen drone racing say it's like a real-life video game," Horbaczewski told The Creators Project. "It's a futuristic moment coming to life."

If you haven't already seen the Drone Racing League trailer, here's what the new sport looks and feels like (and yes, it's all real footage):

click to play video

This seems unwise to admit from the middle of Broncos territory, but American football isn't really my thing. Earlier this week I was wishing that the Super Bowl involved life-sized robots on the field instead of human players risking bodily harm. I'd watch the bots in a heartbeat.

Fortunately for diehard football fans, the Drone Racing League kicks off the season well after the Super Bowl. Their season opener took place at the Sun Life Stadium in Florida, where the Dolphins normally play. That first race will air on February 22. Finally, tech nerds get to take over the gridiron.

via The Creators Project

From their high perspective and discreet presence, drones have the ability to capture unique aerial images. Mobile app maker Dronestagram saw the potential for a contest and this year's winners are truly inspiring. Dronestagram executives, along with staff from National Geographic, reviewed more than 5,000 photos taken by drones around the world to identify the top winners. Here, you'll find aerial imagery ranging from snorkelers in French Polynesia to a cliff diver in Mazatlan, Mexico. Enjoy! Above: This photo radiates suspense as snorkelers swim in the center of eight gliding sharks in French Polynesia. The photo took top honors in the "Nature" category.

A custom-built drone rose above the fog to capture this photograph of the cross at the top of the Cathedral of Maringa in Brazil. It won first prize in the "Places" category.

In the "Dronies" category, which represents selfie-like photos taken with drones, an image of a group of people dressed like they are out of a Where’s Wally scene (better known as Where’s Waldo in America) won first place. Where were they really? At Limassol Carnival in Cyprus.

This picture of participants at the very beginning of La Jolla, San Diego’s Pier-To-Cove ocean race took second in the "Nature" category.

Taking second place in the "Places" category, this photo of the Mont Saint-Michel island commune in Normandy, France, features calm waters, a gorgeous landmark and a spectacular sky.

This photo features Plovdiv, an ancient Bulgarian city, lit up magically at night. The image took second price for the "Popular" category, which represents the most-liked photos.

Taking third place in the "Nature" category, this photo of a tropical island in French Polynesia shows spectacular aerial imagery of a group of people with their toes in the water, along with lush trees and a breathtaking sky. Look closely and you’ll also find a hidden rainbow.

This image of a colorful field of tulips in the Netherlands and a group of people strolling trough them took third prize in the "Places" category.

This adventure-packed photo features a cliff diver in Mazatlan, Mexico, about to plummet into crystal clear water. This image was awarded third place for the "Popular" category.