Thursday, February 4, 2016

Drone Derby

And around the track they come:

"New circuit aims to be the NASCAR of drone racing" by Jing Cao Bloomberg News  January 27, 2016

Competitive video gaming is a professional sport that generates more than $700 million a year, so why not drone racing?

That’s the bet Nick Horbaczewski is making by starting the Drone Racing League, with the backing of investors who include Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins football team, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures, a New York venture capital firm. Horbaczewski expects most fans to watch races online, much as they do competitive gaming in the United States, using their phones, computers, and eventually even virtual-reality headsets.

Ultimately, he has ambitions of becoming a digital NASCAR for drones.

The league hosted the first race of its inaugural season at Sun Life Stadium in Miami in December, shooting video of drones zooming around the giant complex from various perspectives, which will be turned into professional quality content to be shown online next month. Their aim is to evoke classic Star Wars battle scenes and grab the attention of the mainstream public.

That would be like that little no good kid in Episode One.

‘‘We’re creating a whole new form of entertainment that straddles the digital and the real,’’ Horbaczewski said.

In the last two years, drone racing has grown from a niche hobby to more serious business. Fat Shark, a virtual-reality goggles maker, sponsored a racing event this summer at the California State Fair that attracted more than 100 racers. There’s also the International Drone Racing Association, based in Michigan and dedicated to setting up competitions and raising awareness of the sport.

This year, Dubai will host the first World Drone Prix, a tournament with speed and freestyle categories held by the international drone association and an organization supported by Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In most of these events, the racers bring their own drones, and organizers depend heavily on sponsorships.

Drone racing shares similarities with e-sports, the term for competitive video gaming, which lets fans watch their favorite gamers go head to head online and in stadiums. The e-sports market generated about $750 million in revenue last year, mostly from advertising and sponsorships, according to SuperData Research, which tracks the market. Meanwhile, live streams of gamers playing on such sites as Twitch generated about $3.8 billion in 2015, SuperData said.

Whether the Drone Racing League will be able to bring the sport from hobby to professional will depend on whether the company can produce and show the content live, Joost van Dreunen, chief executive officer of SuperData, said. With e-sports, live- streaming platforms led to an explosion in popularity, he said.

‘‘A live sports event is what makes it exciting, makes it something you can connect to emotionally,’’ he said. ‘‘Otherwise, how do you visualize the effort? Where is the drama?’’

I like the crashes.


I'm lost.

I suppose the next step is gambling and fantasy teams, 'eh?