Organizers of new racing leagues for drone enthusiasts hope new formats and technology will attract large audiences for their fledgling sport, and make it profitable, as well. Diane Hodges reports.
pic of drone soaring thru the sky) The popularity of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, is soaring. And that's spurred drone racing to also take off. (pics of drones racing through the course) Some 150 pilots competed at the U.S> Naional Drone Championships in New York in August… And on October 17, the first World Drone Championships will begin in Hawaii. Drone racing is a sport that combines the physical and the virtual. By wearing special goggles, racers see the course through the drone's camera…. That makes them feel as though they're the ones flying through the air, according to the CEO of the Drone Racing League, Nick Horbackzerski. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) NICK HORBACZEWSKI, FOUNDER AND CEO OF DRL, SAYING: "It has similar dynamics to e-sports but it's broken through the screen and its in the real world. There's an actual drone flying at 90mph down a hallway, slipping a wall and exploding into a million pieces." But Horbaczewski says its been tough for race organizers to figure out a good way for spectators to follow the action. Horbaczewski says league organizers have invested a lot of time and money into developing technology that will make the races more accessible to spectators. The efforts seem to be paying off: more than 220-thousand people watched the U.S. championships on ESPN. He's hoping that, now that the league has built a marketable format, more spectators, broadcasters, and sponsors…will come.