Drone technology has infiltrated almost all spheres of modern life – be it in the form of a convenient and popular Christmas present, innovative method of product delivery or covert overseas missions. But did you know that drone racing is also a real thing? Thanks to ESPN, drone racing will now be associated with mainstream sports and entertainment.
ESPN has partnered with the International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) to offer viewers around the world a glimpse into the latest sporting initiative. On 13 April, the sports network signed a multi-year deal with IDRA, which is slated to stream drone races on ESPN 3.
IDRA chairman Dr Scot Refsland said, "Drone racing gives anyone the ability to fly like a superhero. Because everyone can experience the thrill of racing as if they were sitting in the drone cockpit, the sport is skyrocketing. To go from a first ever, US national drone race to partnering with ESPN for international distribution in eight months is truly a sign of great things ahead."
ESPN will host the first drone racing event, The US National Drone Racing Championships, in New York City, which will take place from 5 to 7 August 2016. The three-day event will see the sports network stream highlights of the race, from an aerial perspective, in a one-hour TV show. The winner of the competition will be crowned the fastest drone pilot in the US.
Drone racing has been steadily gaining popularity in the sports community. In March, Dubai hosted the Drone Grand Prix, which saw the winner of the competition, a British teenager, being awarded a $250,000 (£177,000) prize.
Drone racing involves contestants flying their UAVs at high speed around a race-track, while pilots virtually experience the sensation of flying via a pair of goggles that display a video streamed from a camera attached to the front of the drone. Spectators can also enjoy a first-person view of the race. Thanks to ESPN's deal, viewers will now be able to enjoy this fast-paced aerial sport via their TV.