Once Underground, Vegas to Launch Drone Racing Competition

November 6, 2015

8:00 am

Ever since the pod-racing scene in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, people have been itching to make the concept a reality. Due to advances in quadcopters, the dream is coming true. Underground drone racing is a relatively new sport taking over abandoned buildings, wooded trails, and now through a former hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas.

While the drone market has grown dramatically in the past couple of years, unlike those large automated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or the small RC drones you find at mall kiosks, racing drones are advanced quadcopters enhanced with VR headsets with a live first-person video streams. This allows the pilot to be able to maneuver and fly the quadcopter as if they were racing much like a pod racer.

According to a statement, Las Vegas Downtown Project and its partners are launching the Xtreme Drone Circuit (XDC), a league dedicated to the exciting, high-adrenaline sport of First Person View (FPV) drone racing.

“This event is a completely organic starting place for the XDC, which we are confident will grow into something far grander in the coming years,” said Mark Rowland, CEO of DTP Ventures, which oversees many of Downtown Project’s investments. “Until now, drone racing in Southern Nevada has been largely an underground, guerrilla phenomenon. XDC is poised to break out and become a massive competition, bringing the high-energy sport of FPV drone racing to the next level.”

Unlike underground races, the attendees of the race will also be able to view the race in first person view (FPV) on screens at the event.

“As much as anything, this event is about having fun and supporting drone racing enthusiasts who until now really haven’t had such a cool, well-organized venue in which to race,” said Rowland. “These drone pilots have become amazingly adroit at maneuvering their racing drones through race courses that often include narrow, confined spaces and incredibly close proximity to other racing drones. Sure, there are occasional crashes, but feelings are the only thing that might get hurt.”

The first XDC competition will be on Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Western Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas. Prizes of up to $2,500 will be awarded to winners.

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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