drone racing league

Are you ready for the drone racing revolution? DRL’s Ben Johnson weighs in

The following post is a guest column from Chidubem Ezinne, Software Engineer, drone enthusiast, and founder and creator of TestingAlpha. The views of guest posters belong to the author and are not necessarily reflective of TheDroneGirl.com.

This past year, the Drone Racing League has been all over the news, from ESPN to Wired. I talked with Ben Johnson, head of communications and a spokesperson for the Drone Racing League. The Drone Racing League is a premier racing league which has secured over $10 million in funding to help bring Drone Racing to the masses.


Chidubem (CJ) Ezinne: How does one become a racer in the Drone Racing League?

DRL’s Ben Johnson: DRL is unique in that it’s open to top pilots all around the world. Our elite pilots are incredibly diverse in background, age and geographical location – we’ve have pilots coming in from countries like Brazil, Australia, and Mexico City.

To qualify, candidates can apply on www.drl.io/pilots.

CJ: Do you see drone racing staying an individual sport or evolving into teams of players?

BJ: With six events in 2016, DRL will enlist drone pilots from around the globe to compete. We built an in-house team of race specialists and drone engineers to reimagine the traditional sports league. With multiple heats per event and continually evolving courses, each pilot will be forced to improve as the season goes on or risk elimination.

drone racing league
Courtesy DRL

CJ: How do DRL events work?

BJ: There are three stages to a DRL race event: Qualifyings, SemiFin
als and Finals.

Each round contains multiple heats, so that pilots get multiple attempts at racing the same line. DRL races are in enormous venues, with the course bending through tunnels, up flights of stairs and around razor sharp turns.

In each race there are gates that the drones must fly through to stay on track. Miss a gate and the pilot is disqualified from the heat. Points are awarded based on checkpoints and finishing time – just like common racing video games. Pilots who finish the season with the most points are invited to the world championship where they can compete for the title of world’s best pilot.

CJ: What growth have you seen in the interest of drone racing?

BJ: Drone racing has been a hobby for a few years, and the skill of the pilots is incredible. We are focused on creating the greatest courses, and pushing the skill of these pilots to the next level, and in the process we believe fans around the world will becoming increasingly engaged.

drone racing league
Courtesy DRL

CJ: Do you believe that drone racing will spike in growth as eSports have in the last couple of years?

BJ: Absolutely. We’ve had a fantastic outpouring of interest from fans, media and companies alike. From traditional racing sport enthusiasts, to young, tech-savvy individuals interested in new content, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response to DRL.

CJ: What mediums are available or may be available in the future for more fans to be able to see livestreams of competitions?

BJ: We’re not just creating a new sport, we’re creating a whole new form of entertainment. We’ll be releasing DRL race footage  on our Facebook and Youtube page. Digital media distribution allows us to tell all the compelling stories about drone racing – from the pilots, racing itself, the technology, the iconic venues the drones fly through.

CJ: There are some other leagues currently in the FPV Drone racing space. How do you see your league becoming the industry leader?

BJ: DRL is focused on building a fan base for the world’s greatest pilots. The skill of our racers, combined with the most complex and unique courses, will help the experience stand apart from other events and formats.

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