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What is Drone Racing?

First Person View (FPV) drone racing is a competition where pilots control drones equipped with cameras while wearing goggles that stream the live video feed from the drones. The goal is to complete a complex race course as quickly as possible and ahead of the other pilots in the heat. For the pilot, it’s like being inside the cockpit of a plane maneuvering through a massive obstacle course.

How fast do Drones fly?

According to the FAA, the legal and acceptable racing drone speed limit is 100mph. But they can go faster … if you’re a pro. Some pilots have been known to reach speeds of up to 120mph and the world record actually stands at 179 mph.

Are racing Drones dangerous?

The short answer is…they can be. Besides the risk of being struck, drones have often sharp propellers spinning at high velocities. As with anything, care and caution should be used when operating a drone of any kind. Racing drones have a ‘disarm’ feature allowing a pilot to immediately and remotely stop the motors in case of an accident, reducing the risk of injury. Caution should always be used when flying or spectating a drone race where crashes can be frequent and spectacular.

How do I get into Drone racing?

Step one, buy a drone. Most professional pilots build their own, but for beginners its best to purchase a pre-built drone which are readily available at your local hobby store. The $120 Hubsan X4 would be a good starting point. This includes a camera feeding video back to the controller, which shows it on a small screen. It also has easily replaceable parts: a definite bonus, as learning to race involves a lot of crashing. This will help you get the feel for flying as well as help you develop the motor skills needed for controlling the aircraft. If you’re not ready yet, you can also practice on a Drone Racing Simulator such as the DRL SIM from the Drone Racing League, a true-to-life drone racing simulator available on PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, and Epic Games.

How much does a racing Drone cost?

On average a racing drone can cost anywhere from $200-$500 to build, depending on the components you use. You must also purchase batteries, propellers, and FPV goggles. A total set-up for a professional pilot can run in the thousands of dollars.

Can you make Drone racing a career?

Like anything, success in Drone Racing is all about what you put into it. For example, The World Drone Prix recently ran its first competition in Dubai, where 15-year-old U.K. resident Luke Bannister won the main prize: a quarter of a million dollars. Though most racers lean toward the hobby side of the sport, some do find success in national (or international) leagues. You may have seen DRL on NBC? Those are paid pilots who work on seasonal contracts. The DCL operates much the same way in other parts of the world. The International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) even signed a multi-year deal with ESPN, which will start broadcasting its races. IDRA is the organizer of the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships, the World Drone Racing Championships and the Drone World Cup series. Pilots are selected for these leagues with seasonal competitions. It’s hard to get good enough to win a spot, but isn’t the real fun in trying?