Drone Racing League’s 2nd season is set to take off

Drone Racing League’s 2nd season is set to take off

There’s a new sport and its picking up speed: drone racing. The hobby-turned-sport hit the professional circuit last year and has been flying high ever since. After adding major sponsor Allianz, the Drone Racing League (DRL) seeks to heighten the excitement felt by more than 30 million viewers last season.

In the upcoming season, rookie and veteran pilots will command upgraded quadcopters at speeds approaching 100 mph through bigger, custom-designed drone racing courses. Like last season, you can meet the pilots, see the courses and catch all the aerial action on TV.

Drone racing made its television debut on ESPN last fall with 10 episodes featuring 5 race qualifiers and events, including the first Drone Racing League Championship. Last season’s winner, Jordan “Jet” Temkin, will be looking to defend his title this season against some of the best drone pilots from around the world.

Twisting and turning, and maybe tumbling, through 6 unique courses

LED lighting, tricky obstacles, hairpin turns and highlighted checkpoints can transform any environment into a challenging drone racing course. DRL’s first tour included the Miami Dolphin’s Hard Rock Stadium, an “apocalyptic” abandoned mall in Los Angeles and the futuristic grounds of a tech company in Manhattan.

Building off of the success of last season’s courses, designers conceived new, larger tracks to push the limits of the drones and their pilots. This year’s circuit will feature six courses including two challenging courses in Europe, where drone racing continues to grow in popularity

Season 2 takes the Drone Racing League to Europe

Drone Racing League coverage will broadcast across the world, so it only makes sense to take the racing international. In addition to racing in Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta and Boston, pilots will also take to the skies in Munich and London.

Whether stateside or abroad, the tracks are quite impressive, especially with drones coursing through them at 90+ miles per hour.

Introducing the faster, tougher Racer3

Like the racetracks in season 2, the drones are going to be bigger and better. Replacing last year’s Racer2, the Racer3 sports a bigger battery for faster acceleration (like 0 to 80 in under a second). It will also feature a more durable frame and polycarbonate cover, equipped with more than 100 LED lights so viewers can easily follow the drones along the course. The new aircraft modifications will bring faster races with tighter turns and, perhaps most importantly, higher resiliency to crashes.

All competing pilots will fly the Racer3 from a stationary location. They’ll see where the drones are going with the use of a virtual reality type headset that displays the view from a camera mounted to the drone. DRL provides and regulates the equipment used in order to equally test each pilot’s skill and their ability to navigate the course.

Get your (virtual) hands on one

If you’d like to try out your skills with the Racer3 you can, but you won’t be able to pick one up in stores. Instead, the Drone Racing League offers a free DRL Racing Simulator, compatible with Mac and Windows. Multiple controller options are available, including select drone devices as well as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 or 4 controllers, so you can pilot your virtual aircraft with a controller you’re familiar with.

When playing the simulator leaves you wanting to take your skills to the next level, explore thedroneracingleague.com for more info on getting started, and be sure to tune in for season 2 to watch how the pros do it.

DRL is making airwaves June 20 on ESPN

Professional drone racing returns to ESPN and ESPN2 this June. Season 2 will feature 6 races, including the second Drone Racing League Championship, across 12 hour-long episodes. Check it out to see why the sport is catching on so quickly – there’s really nothing quite like it.