Nick Horbaczewski, 35, CEO of Drone Racing League (a startup based in New York, US), is keen on transforming his hobby into a prime spectator sport. His vision is to turn quadcopter racing into the latest sport sensation. Horbaczewski, who had been a former chief revenue officer of Tough Mudder acknowledges his friend named Ryan Gury for getting him initiated into the world of UAV racing. The CEO of Drone Racing League says he realized the huge potential of the sport when once he witnessed a few guys at it on a field in Long Island, accompanied by his friend.
Welcome to a typical quadcopters racing scene from Miami Dolphins Stadium.It is replete with throbbing excitement where four quadcopters trailing different colored lights screech at 110kph. One of them crashes against the gate strut breaking into bits – the reason being mistiming. The result – commentators’ turn berserk with the FPVProvo pulling off his headset out of sheer frustration.
According to Horbaczewski, drones racing in the present times is similar to what motor racing had been in the earlier days, when only the individuals racing cars were at it. However, looking at component sales of thousands, it certainly gives the feel of a huge drive. Moreover, Drone Racing League’s races are not the run of the mill ones; the Racer2 drones are built according to strict race specifications and customized to be used by all pilots.
Ryan Gury, the CEO’s friend is the current chief product officer and he has been instrumental in creating a proprietary radio system to tackle the problem of video disconnection, along with LED rigs. All these have contributed towards making the drones even more user friendly apart from lending a look akin to a ‘Tron’.
There are two cameras for each drone. One camera helps in streaming live videos and is of standard definition and the other of high definition, which helps in collating videos for online sharing. There has been a lot of hard work put in for making the sport three- dimensional, according to Horbaczewski – a trait that’s hardly shared by any other sport. This has been achieved with the help of ground cameras as well as camera drones that shoot all possible angles. Added to that is its diminutive size and its speed.
There are six races fixed to be held by DRL in 2016 throughout the US. According to the CEO, presently its entry is by invitation only, however, there are future plans of making it even more interactive through live audiences, for bringing in the best live broadcast experience to the table.
DRL has been till date successful in raising 8 million USD as investor funding from such people as Miami Dolphins proprietor and Muse frontman Matt Bellamy. The subsequent step includes the aggressive hiring of pilots. In order to assist theamateurs try out a course, the company has released an online simulator. The outcome has been quite reassuring with people displaying high scores. Horbaczewski is positive that in a couple of weeks, the online simulator would help people attain great expertise in the sport, turning them into a superstar.