How Drone Racing Has Grown In The Last 2 Years
Some time around late 2015 or early 2016, we saw a transition in how people thought about and used drones. Once viewed as a sort of military or spy technology, drones had already made it into stores like Brookstone and the Apple Store, and had become widely available online. With this new availability, they were essentially high-tech playthings, some expensive and equipped with high-resolution cameras, others small, affordable, and not much more advanced than a toy helicopter. From that point, however, we saw people beginning to take drones more seriously as tools for competitive recreation.
Drone racing arose, built on a combination of small but powerful drones and in some cases cameras that could provide pilots with a “first person” view from the drone itself. We wrote about a drone racing series back in March of 2016, and while such events weren’t completely new at that time, they were really only beginning to emerge in a prominent way. But where has the drone racing business gone since then?
It was only a few months after we posted that article that another piece on drone racing surfaced and spoke to the potential of the activity to become a major business, akin to a sport. At the time, Drone Racing League was gearing up for their first Drone Racing World Championships the following October, and the piece suggested that serious bookmakers were keeping an eye on things. They weren’t opening betting markets for drone races just yet, but their attention was perhaps one of the most significant signs that a casual activity was evolving into a more organized and widespread phenomenon. One expert noted that bookies need to “have some statistics” in order to offer markets, but they were essentially starting the process of getting involved.
Later that same year, the Drone Racing League would get what amounted to a sort of test run on ESPN networks, being nationally televised for the first time. It still wasn’t a mainstream or primetime broadcast, necessarily, but it seemed to do the trick, as ESPN aired “Season 2” of Drone Racing League this past summer. Barely a year had elapsed from a time at which betting experts were looking to “see how the first race goes,” and already the league was gearing up for a second run on ESPN – this time a little more prominent than the first time.
Now it feels like drone racing, as a professional sport is here to stay. While it’s actually difficult to find comprehensive overviews of how it’s performing on television, we do know that it beat F1 and IndyCar on at least one occasion this past summer, which is pretty significant. A third season on ESPN now feels like a virtual certainty, and we could see more mainstream attention devoted to drone racing in the very near future!
An article from Edward Parker about the drone racing