These are strange times we live in. We have all sorts of sports where people physically partake in the testosterone drenched quest of greatness but somehow we still can't get out of our seats or throw down that controller. Racing by proxy has arrived folks. And it's no XBOX.
Drone racing they call it. And to tell you all about is Joshua Madisson, our regular guest writer.
Drones is a word we all have had to get used to talking about. Whether it is on the news in wars, or Amazon suggesting using a new delivery method it is on everyone’s tongues. 2016 has seen the introduction of something newer. People haven’t thought about Drone in a sporting context yet, but the Drone Racing League is hoping to change that.
Drone Racing is very new, believed to have begun in Australia in 2014. Racers or as their referred to by the Drone Racing League (DRL), Pilots are growing as a population. 2016 has seen the ‘events’ that took place between enthusiasts officially become a sport. The DRL are holding a competition of six events which started on the 22nd February, over the course of 2016. The first race took place in Miami’s Sunlife Stadium and made everyone take notice. Special lit tracks, LED lit drones racing at high speeds and a real world track with obstacles. What was this?
Drone Racing is a very new yet unique sport. Pilots race their drones around real world environments while wearing goggles. These goggles provide First Person Viewing from the drone directly to the pilots. When watching a race, the excitement around its futuristic looks is understandable. In the DRL heats and races take place over a single course and the Pilots rack up points determined on their placing. The drones are provided by the DRL to keep the playing field level, but still the Drones are fine-tuned machines able to travel up to speeds of 120mph. They also have a careful calibration of balancing taking place while it flies, which allows the pilots to stay in control while also performing many manoeuvres. Drones flip, roll and seem to skid around corners whilst all whizzing through the air.
The sport has had the backing of many investors and interested parties. The DRL hopes to become the elite competition in Drone Racing and people have put their money where their belief is. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross invested $1m of his own wealth into the league and Muse lead singer whose last album was even called ‘Drone’ is also said to be backing the sport financially. This all leads to the question of what does the future look like for other racing sports?
Rival racing sports, especially Formula 1 are in constant argument over mundane elements such as qualifying at the moment, and fights over engines that no one quite understands can make the sport look utterly archaic at times. Yes, there is much more involved in racing cars such a pit crews and drivers, but how many people get the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car. With drones anyone can realistically try it. Formula 1 is currently in a battle of the same two drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, from the same team no less, for the Championship. Other teams can sometimes just be cannon fodder to overtake. Could it be possible for Drone Racing to steal away the fans from F1 and could we even maybe see Sebastien Vettel at the hands of a controller?
The only stumbling block for Drone Racing right now is the audiences. Formula 1 fans are the highlight of the sport with their passion and enthusiasm for the sport that has kept it going. Drone Racing will hope to emulate this in some way. With crashing a common occurrence spectators have to be some distance from the drones. The DRL’s ultimate goal is to have fans wearing the same goggles as the pilots to give them a POV view of the racing, but maintaining live feeds are proving problematic. While the rules and technical issues are ironed out Drone Racing may be years from making an impact on its much bigger rivals, but with the looks of Star Wars and the modern powered vehicles, Drone Racing is definitely something to look out for. Meanwhile the league moves on with the next race taking place in an abandoned LA mall, it already sounds awesome!
Written by Joshua Madisson
Think that is cool? How about a super sexy racing car with no driver that drives itself? Apparently that is what Roborace is. Roborace will be the world's first driverless racing series i.e. autonomous racing cars. At least drone racing still has people directly controlling the machines. Roborace is another step closer to Judgement Day. Hasta La Vista Baby!
The organizers have finally unveiled what its custom-made electric cars will look like — and boy do they look wild. The four-wheeled autonomous vehicles appear to be covered in sensors and look wickedly aerodynamic, with bodywork that covers up all the internals and massive openings around each axle.
That the car looks crazy isn't necessarily a surprise — after all, Roborace hired Daniel Simon, the man who designed the light cycles in Tron: Legacy, to design these cars. In an official release, Simon says his goal was "to create a vehicle that takes full advantage of the unusual opportunities of having no driver without ever compromising on beauty," and that he worked with racing engineers and aerodynamicists to strike that balance. "Beauty was very high on our agenda," he says, and it shows.
The founders say that the first Roborace "shows" are still on schedule to take place during the 2016/17 Formula E season, though exactly when is still unknown. Does this mean that we'll see something different from the 10-team, 20-car races that were teased when the series was originally announced in November? Or will Roborace host a suite of events, with some looking more like traditional races and others being pure displays of what the teams' algorithms are capable of? Will Formula E pit its drivers against the autonomous cars in a high speed showdown of man versus machine?
One thing is for sure: whatever Roborace winds up becoming will be shaped by the logistical framework already put in place by Formula E. Roborace will be piggybacking on Formula E's infrastructure, performing on the same race days at the same locations. Considering that Formula E teams only have something on the order of half a day to practice, qualify, and race on each street circuit, there won't be a ton of time to squeeze in Roborace. But whatever these cars do, at least now we know they'll be doing it in style.
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