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Drone racers are a thing and they’re amazing | Freethink

September 26, 2019


And this– Is a drone for a speed demon. My name is Paul Nurkkala
and I’m a professional drone racer. Inventing a new sport like drone racing means you need to think of traditional sports challenges in an entirely new way. Like – how do you find athletes? For the drone racing league,
the biggest league on the scene, They turned their vetting process into a video game. They have the simulator there because you can’t just pick up and start flying a racing drone. That’s because they’re incredible feats of top-notch technology. So this is the the DRL Racer 3. This drone goes 0 to 80 in less than a second. Compare that to a Formula One car It takes them like two and a half seconds to get that fast and that’s only to 60. So these things are stupid fast. The difference between a win and a loss comes down to minute differences. When you’re traveling 80 miles an hour every millisecond that your inputs are delayed to the drone accounts for like seven or eight feet and if you’re flying through an obstacle that’s only eight feet wide, one millisecond is the difference between making it or missing it. So the simulator isn’t just there to make sure you know the basics, it’s there to make sure you’re damn good at them. In the world of precision sporting that evens the playing ground between pilots of all types. -Ooh! Because in the DRL Everyone has to race with the same drone. the Racer 3. That means that just because you have the most money and can afford the nicest drone outside the track doesn’t mean you’ll win a championship race. Skill is the name of the game here. and that’s what makes it a relatively democratic sport. Anybody can have skill. Like Milk, who’s an 11 year old girl in Thailand racing with another league. Her feet can barely touch the floor when sitting to race And she still became the first female world drone racing champion. Here she is holding her $8,000 giant check. Or this kid, Luke Bannister, a 15 year old who walked away with 250 grand after winning the World Drone Prix in Dubai. Once a racer makes it to the big leagues in the simulator DRL can decide that they want to invest in that pilot to make the big leagues IRL. It’s a global series on TV and it has to do things that are completely different from the normal drones that you find on the shelves. First of all, it has to have a lot of lights. And that’s so as a spectator you can see them from very far away. Everything is built around a single carbon fiber plate. Everything that goes on it is made to be quickly repaired and put back into the air. These things crash quite a bit. And a racing drone doesn’t have any stability to it. So there’s no auto-stabilization, there’s no GPS. It’s full manual flight It’s almost like learning how to use a clutch or ride a bicycle for the first time. Racing drones involve deeply sophisticated engineering and hardware. It’s not just for flying fast– but for translating with the drone sees
into what a pilot sees. Which isn’t the same as what we,
the audience, get to see. We see flashy high-resolution footage from a GoPro while a pilot sees this: A low-res, quickly transmissible feed of what the drone sees. -In the drone racing world, we’re very focused on reducing latency. That’s our connection from our brain to the drone, essentially. We use high-performance gear to reduce that connection as low as possible so that when we’re flying We have the the perfect connection to the machine. We are able to to make those high-speed maneuvers without exploding. See that hole? That’s not part of the post-apocalyptic set design of a race course. That’s just a drone blowing through the props mid-race. And for sports, what’s on the inside is just as important as what it looks like on the outside. A ton of time and money goes into inventing the look of a new sport Because that look is what can give that sport
broad appeal It has to feel legit, modern, and easily shareable. Like video games meet Star Wars. The idea has to be big, bold, flashy: fast racers, big money, big champions, the whole nine yards. And DRL intends for drone racing
to be a broadcast-level sport. It’s already aired on ESPN and this year they have an exclusive deal with NBC and Twitter. They draw huge crowds, They sell merch, they get major investment from the biggest players in sports media– Like Skye, Formula 1, Alliance, WWE, Hearst. Even Lockheed Martin issued a challenge with two million dollars in prizes. But if drone racing wants to become future NASCAR, or football or football, There is one particular challenge it needs to grapple with: Part of inventing a new sport is inventing some sort of authority that can enforce rules To make sure you aren’t doing anything untoward– like straight up not paying people which we’ve seen happen in eSports. Even though there is a Drone Pilots Federation establishing competition rules, Right now the agency that oversees drone racing is basically just the word “Meh.” But for now the financial investment is there and so is the attention from fans. Because it is a crazy-cool sport, and the future of that sport will come down to how the pilots and the leagues establish what it means to be an
entirely new kind of athlete. Hi everybody, thank you guys so much for checking out the Drone Racing League today with us Make sure to check out more about the Drone Racing League and about Nurk. That’s all in the description box down below. And of course, make sure to LIKE and subscribe on YouTube for more Freethink videos. Until next time. Bye!

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