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DR1 Racing Builds First Ever Audience Controlled Drone Racetrack, Brings Drone Racing Fans Even Closer to the Action

BY Zacc Dukowitz
8 June 2018

A little while back we interviewed Sahand Barati, VP of Business Development at DR1 Racing, who filled us in on DR1’s 2017 lineup and the high quality of the drone pilots featured in their races.

Sahand reached out again recently to fill us in on a new DR1 project—in partnership with Dell, DR1 has built the first ever audience controlled racetrack for drone racing.

dr1-racetrack-drones
Audience members can move triangular “gates”up and down in this interactive racetrack

Last year DR1 partnered with Dell to do a drone racing showcase at the annual Dell Technologies Worldwide conference. The installation allowed conference attendees to learn more about drones and drone racing by watching live races, interacting with drone racing simulators, and actually flying themselves.

This year, when Dell asked DR1 to return to their annual conference, DR1 decided to raise the bar when it came to audience engagement.

The result was an interactive, audience controlled racetrack that uses IOT (Internet Of Things) technology to connect audience members with parts of the course, and was on display for the first time ever last week at the Dell Technologies Worldwide 2018 conference in Las Vegas, NV.

This is the first time ever where a racing league has created a race track that allows the audience to participate and influence the outcome of the race.

– Sahand Barati, VP at DR1 Racing

What does it mean for the audience to control the track? Literally that people watching live can interact with parts of the course, and either help or hurt the performance of a particular pilot.

dr1-audience-drone-track

Watch the clip below to see the idea in action—we’ve set the video up to start right when drone pilot Alex Vanover begins explaining how audience members can activate a Dyson fan to give a racing pilot’s drone a boost, or can move elements of the track to trip pilots up.

Check it out:

DR1 @ Dell Technologies World 2018

But why, you might wonder, would you want the audience to get involved like this?

Sahand told us that audience participation is a key factor in getting people more interested and engaged in drone racing, and helping to boost the popularity of this fairly new sport even further.

And there is a legacy to this kind of audience involvement in racing events. Formula E, an auto racing organization that features only electric-powered cars,  has a feature in their races that allows fans to vote and thereby unlock a certain amount of battery life within the car they vote on, giving the car an extra boost.

In addition to auto racing, this kind of direct engagement with races through voting and other actions has also been used in eSports, and presents an attractive way for people to get excited about watching races because they’re also, in some ways, taking part in them.

dr1-drone-racetrack
People engaging with DR1’s racetrack at Dell’s annual conference

Right now DR1 is gearing up for their second DHL Championship Series, and it’s shaping up to be an amazing season. They’ve announced races at locations around the world, including places like Slovenia, Croatia, and France, and Germany.

We’re looking forward to seeing some of the footage from these spots—if the first Championship Series was any indicator, this second one is sure to produce some stunning footage, not to mention world class FPV racing.

Zacc Dukowitz

Contributing Writer

Zacc Dukowitz is a contributing writer, and the former Director of Marketing for UAV Coach. A writer with professional experience in education technology and digital marketing, Zacc is passionate about reporting on the drone industry at a time when UAVs can help us live better lives. Zacc also holds the rank of nidan in Aikido, a Japanese martial art, and is a widely published fiction writer. Zacc has an MFA from the University of Florida and a BA from St. John's College. Follow @zaccdukowitz or check out zaccdukowitz.com to read his work.

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