When “That Drone Show” cofounder David Oneal took the stage at the 2016 NAB Show in 2016, he brought some drone racers to the netted stage to show off acrobatic freestyle maneuvers. The room had seats for 250.
As soon as the drones took to the air, the room quickly became standing room only.
“Every seat was full and people had come from all over the conference just to watch two drone racers in the air,” Oneal said. “All it was, was two freestyle drones and a PowerPoint Presentation. I was like, ‘you guys are going crazy over nothing.’”
Oneal knows what’s worth going crazy over. He’s been to 25 drone races in 14 months and has hosted six of his own in partnership with MultiGP FPV Multirotor Racing.
And he’s bringing something worth going crazy over to the International Drone Expo (IDE) in Los Angeles this December.
IDE will host its first ever Drone Racing Cup, custom designed by drone racing league MultiGP. An indoor race course will takeover part of the Los Angeles Convention Center, larger than other indoor courses, complete with advanced obstacles and a massive spectating area for expo attendees.
“It’s a premium racing event that you can see within a larger drone conference,” Oneal said. “You don’t have to go to a parking garage late at night or the middle of a field to watch drone racing.”
A drone race course isn’t something you’ll find at just any drone expo.
“Every drone conference has keynote speakers and panelists,” Oneal said.
IDE will have those premier speakers too — more than 80, in fact (including DJI’s Romeo Durscher, Hollywood filmmaker Melissa diMeglio, and ABC’s Maria Stephanopoulos).
But the drone racing will bring some much-needed perspective to a drone industry often bogged down by regulation debates and business challenges.
“This is something fun,” Oneal said. “It’s a reminder of why I got into the drone industry. I picked up a drone simply because I thought it was fun.”
The race will include high-definition video monitors and an audience commentator. Racers will come from a pool of preliminary winners from the SoCal Maker Convention, which takes place Nov. 5 at the Los Angeles Fairplex in Pomona, Calif, with finalists selected at IDE.