Drone Racing is Poised to Grow

  1. Observations from the World Games

Drone racing was an event at the World Games in my city. Now I know it exists (as does canoe polo!).

The composition of contestants was interesting. One pilot was only 14 years old, the youngest person competing in the 2022 World Games. Another pilot was in a wheelchair. Drone racing is for sports like Work From Home is for professional jobs – the number of competitors is potentially enormous.

Spectators reported that it was hard to follow the actual drones with your eyes. People in the stadium for the race usually watched the jumbo screens that show the point of view of the pilots. This raises the question: why bother with the drones at all when we could just be doing e-sports? There is something special about the extra challenge of a physical race. The machinery adds a NASCAR-like element, and it gives people an excuse to gather together.

Videos, if you’d like to get a sense of how the sport works:

Championship Race: Xfinity CA Drone Speed Challenge, 2018

Maine drone racer heads to the World Games

2. Thoughts on the Future

Polaris published an industry report that predicts growth.

Drone racing will grow in the United States. This seems like a sport that will appeal to Generation Alpha and their parents.

As a parent, I would support it. It’s expensive, so that’s going to be prohibitive for a while, but millions of Americans bought drones at some point in the last decade. Drones get broken in races, but the cost of components is coming down. Part of the sport is being able to repair and build your own custom drones.

A handful of US high school already have drone racing clubs. Adults will be able to point to the value of learning technology that comes along with racing for fun.

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