Drone racing, the thrilling new sport that sees pilots fly high-speed drones also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is now set to become a more accessible sport for South Africans. Thanks to the launch of Drone Racing Africa (DRA) – the first fully funded drone racing league and series in Africa – junior school children through to adults will be catered for in this dynamic technology meets sport space.
Globally, drone racing is exploding and has already become a mainstream sport in many markets, spurring professional leagues and significant prize-money events such as the World Drone Prix held in Dubai in March and the Drone World Championships hosted last month in Hawaii. Emerging technology lobbyists the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) projected global drone sales to reach 9.4 million units this year and revenue is expected to reach $3 billion.
Drone racing to trigger new careers on the continent
“The massive growth potential for this sport in Africa impacts numerous industries including education, technology, FMCG and communications. For individuals, there are undeniable career prospects so it’s an incredibly appealing sport”, says Drone Racing Africa CEO Simon Robinson.
The high-speed, competitive sport sees pilots manoeuvre drones and other UAV through three-dimensional courses. Pilots steer from the point of view of the actual drone by wearing First Person View (FPV) goggles that display a live image transmitted by an onboard camera.
The DRA drones will range from entry level through to custom designed drones built by DRA engineers to exacting standards of speed, performance, and endurance, and optimized for drone racing.
But it’s not just about learning the practical skills required for this sport.
Starting from grass-roots – training children to become professional drone pilots
DRA is committed to helping develop this innovative sport on the continent – while initially focused on launching in South Africa, DRA plans to launch within the next twelve months in East and West sub-Sahara Africa. Where better to start than by training junior school children on the basics.
Robinson explains, “At DRA, we understand the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) development for children and the theoretical component will be designed with these needs in mind, so that children are educated on both flight theory relevance along with an important application to multiple uses within the wider drone industry as well as the safety and the law that applies to flying drones.”
The sport is already taking flight at a significant pace. Recently skilled drone pilots competed in the final Western Cape regionals for 2016 at the Cape Academy in Constantia – an exciting family event featuring drone racing and freestyle flying.
Kids Drone Racing Courses for the holidays
Starting from this month, DRA will be hosting two-day programmes across the country that offer an introduction to the cutting-edge new techno-sport. Visit www.droneracingafrica.com for more details. By offering short courses and also engaging schools, universities and corporates DRA plans to graduate students to more advanced training. The top elite pilots in SA will stand the chance to compete at the Drone Racing World Championships, where the sky is literally the limit.