There Is Now a Global Competitive Drone Racing League. Seriously.
Nerds rejoice! This is your moment, your paradise. This is the stuff that your wildest dreams are made of.
There is now a competitive drone racing league. It’s like competitive, real-life video gaming. With drones.
The New York City-based Drone Racing League (DRL) launched today and will kick off with six events in 2016 throughout the world. The first event will be in Miami on Feb. 22 and the second will be in Los Angeles in mid-March. Locations haven’t been finalized for the remaining four events, but locations under consideration include Detroit; Auckland, New Zealand; and Mexico City.
Drone pilots wear goggles that show a live video feed from the perspective of the drone they are controlling. All pilots race the same, custom racing drone called the DRL Racer 2, which can go as fast as 80 miles per hour.
“We’re committed to building the best drones, most inspiring courses and creating the ultimate proving ground for the world’s greatest drone pilots,” says Nicholas Horbaczewski, the founder and CEO of DRL, in a statement announcing the new league.
It all feels a bit otherworldly, but also very much with the times. Drones are part of our current cultural zeitgeist. Depending on who you ask, they’re either the future of delivery or a growing threat to our security. And now, there’s a league of professional drone pilots with custom LED lights that make the whole scene look pretty New-Agey and hip.
The drone league is hardly just nerdtastic-cool, though. DRL has been backed by an eclectic handful of investors including RSE Ventures, CAA Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Muse singer Matthew Bellamy, Lux Capital, Courtside Ventures, and Gary Vaynerchuk, among others. DRL will make money the same way other competitive sports make money: sponsorships, media licensing and, potentially, down the road, live event tickets.
If it all still feels a bit confounding, have a looksee at the videos embedded below.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.