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Drone Racing League Wants To Be the Next NASCAR ( 91

An anonymous reader writes: The Drone Racing League has secured a series of significant investments that it hopes will be enough to turn drone races into a spectator sport. The quadcopter drone racing scene has only exists for a few years, so it's still fairly disjointed. Rules and standards vary between organizers, so it can be hard to have fair races. The DRL aims to fix that. In doing so, it hopes to take lessons from NASCAR and the growing e-sports leagues to find an audience. "Often, pilots wear virtual reality goggles that receive a feed from the camera embedded on the drone and maneuver as if they were in the craft itself. That first-person feed is also recorded and used as raw material for the content produced by the Drone Racing League." The high speeds combined with the ability to make interesting (and photogenic) courses may appeal to people who find car racing too boring.
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Drone Racing League Wants To Be the Next NASCAR

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  • You mean the sport where the technology used in the cars is basically unchanged in the last 50 years (I believe NASCAR is close to the only professional racing league anywhere in the world that still uses carburetors on their cars...)

  • Better check with Chuck Schumer to make sure its ok

  • Now that might attract an audience . . . two drones trying to knock each other out of the sky.

    Sponsored by DARPA . . .

  • Boring... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @06:42AM (#51380595) Homepage
    This is spoken like someone who's never been to a race. The cars (while mostly old technology) are being pushed to the edge and the drivers are in the car so if something goes wrong, they could, and have, been killed. The engines are powerful enough that the ground shakes. Look, I'm not a huge fan of NASCAR, but even I can see what the draw is, and I just don't see it with drone racing. I'm not saying drone racing won't have an audience, but looking at NASCAR for inspiration doesn't make much sense.
    • So ... what makes the sport interesting is that people are using cars that wouldn't be allowed on the road anymore due to safety concerns and that they do get killed in them?

      • And what is it that people like about bull riding and hockey? I don't think it is animals and friendly competition.

        As an engineer, I love racing because of the work needed to balance the suspension and aerodynamics of the car to get the best setup. Of course watching NASCAR on TV isn't the same experience as being in the pits of the local short track, working with a team on their setup.
      • Risk is exciting. It isn't any harder to walk on a high wire if it's higher up, but it seems more dangerous. Trapeze stunts aren't harder to do without a safety net. Performers still do the more dangerous version of these stunts.
      • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

        Do you really not understand or do you just not approve and want to appear superior? On the off chance that you aren't just being a jerk, the fact of the matter is that many human beings like to experience non safe things. Whether it is merely the feeling of being not safe (e.g. roller coaster), or living vicariously through someone else doing something unsafe (e.g. NASCAR, UFC bouts, daredevils), people enjoy the adrenaline rush. Of course, I find it bizarre that I have to explain this to someone whose han

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Opportunist ( 166417 )

          Ok, that explains why people do it. But why the fuck watch someone else do it? I don't understand the appeal of daredevils and the like either. What's interesting about someone jumping over a canyon? Doing it yourself, ok, I can see how this could be some adrenaline rush. But watching? Please.

          Do you want to tell me that it's exciting for some people to watch others on a roller coaster?

          • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

            Watching somebody do something dangerous creates tension and suspense. Watching somebody a roller coaster doesn't create tension because in general we know they are safe. (When we do it ourselves, it doesn't really matter because our own instinctive fear can override our reasoning.) But watching somebody do something dangerous where we believe a possible outcome is injury or tragedy creates emotional tension.

            I find NASCAR boring as fuck, but if you don't intellectually understand the appeal of daredevils, e

            • There are many thing that people find interesting that I cannot really grasp the appeal of. Most of TV for example. Why it's interesting to watch people live their life (or a fake version thereof) is something I really cannot understand in any way.

              But hey, if it makes people happy... I just don't get it.

    • It's boring for a lot of spectators because going in a circle for eternity isn't very interesting, high speed or not. It gives the illusion that no skill is required because "They're just driving in a circle".

      Too bad they killed off Group B. That was pretty exciting.

  • You mean the *next* next NASCAR... I have it on good authority from 2005 that the Rocket Racing League is the *next* NASCAR. []

  • by symes ( 835608 )

    I would so much like to get into drone racing, have VR goggles, 3D camera on the drone... I'd have a lot of fun. But, also, I think I would quite enjoy watching VR feeds of others racing around, or even visiting/flying around interesting places. Seems like we are nearing the time when this kind of stuff could become feasible.

  • The thinking of just plain old racing is limited. As pilot safety isn't an issue, taking out other drones in the course of the race ought to be thing.

  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @09:17AM (#51380957)

    People don't watch NASCAR to see cars go round in a circle a few hundred times. They go to see the crashes. It's the adrenaline from the potential of an accident by having so many cars going together so closely at such high speeds that attracts people. And because the drivers are in the car and in danger the attraction is even greater. There's no way racing drones is going to recreate that when it's just a chunk of plastic on the line.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @09:17AM (#51380961)

    The title of "Next NASCAR" was claimed a while ago by the Rocket Racing League [] with their manned, rocket powered aircraft.

    which doesn't seem to be doing much in the way of racing nowdays.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @09:34AM (#51381031)
    Won't be many participants unless this is all done inside. Because if they're flying outdoor courses, the operators have to be actual certified pilots (because this is a commercial activity). If they're doing it for fun, that's different. But the FAA considers the fact that flying the exact same RC aircraft in the exact same way in the exact same place while following the exact same safety procedures to be so much more dangerous if you're paid $5 to do so, that you must stop what you're doing and go learn how to fly a Cessna, first. Then you can go back to flying your 250g plastic quad copter legally, because that general aviation certificate definitely will make that $5 safer to earn (unless you want to fly, say, an ultra-light with an actual human being aboard, then there's no need for certification). But if you don't make any money at it, well, then there's no need to know any of that stuff. Because, FAA.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You need a licence to do most kinds of auto racing, except for small indoor cart tracks, so it's not that different.

      This could be interesting. Formula E is introducing on-track power-ups like Mario Kart next season, and even F1 has the DRS system. Drones could do all kinds of cool stuff. Remember those trick power-ups that would reverse your controls in the 8 bit era?

  • So pit stops are now what...battery and rotor changes?

  • And will never be NASCAR.

    There are RC Air races already, Drones are less entertaining than a standard RC air race because the drones fucking fly themselves, it requires you point in the right direction, not actually fly. The electronics do the flying.

    I've been 'racing' RC cars, boats and aircraft for literally 20 years. Drones aren't magically more entertaining thats going to draw people into it.

    No one gets hurt in a drone race (no more than spectators at a NASCAR race, for certain). People expect to see

    • ... because the drones fucking fly themselves, it requires you point in the right direction, not actually fly. The electronics do the flying.

      A racing quad is a very different machine to fly than a $49 cheapie with 6 axis stabilization.

  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @02:44PM (#51383473) Journal

    In order to replicate NASCAR you'd have to replicate the ability to "bump", "rub" and mash into each other without crashing most of the time.

    Rotor blade based drones will probably not cut it.

  • It might be great at first, but eventually it will become dominated by money, just like every racing sport did. People are trying get like made to revitalize grass-roots racing, but tracks keep shutting down. It gets to the point that the guys with a few times the budget of the rest far outclass the others. As soon as it becomes a profitable business to be the provider of the best performing parts and drones, the garage tinkerers will be left in the dust unless they have the dough.
  • Then it's like various NES racing games

  • If drones have Facial recognition software they'll become ultimate killing machines;

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye