The Drone Racing League (DRL), has formally announced the launch of the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship Season. The big reveal includes a smattering of new global partners, fresh pilots competing and several new race locations around the world.
The 2018 season will premiere on September 6, 2018 on ESPN. In total, the season will be shown in more than 75 countries across networks including Sky Sports, ProSiebenSat.1 and Groupe AB.
“With more partners, more races, and more pilots, we’re incredibly excited to unveil our most thrilling series yet. Following a historic 2017 season that was watched by tens of millions of fans across the globe, our 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship Season will pit the best FPV pilots against each other through fiercely competitive drone races in new spectacular locations,” said DRL CEO & Founder, Nicholas Horbaczewski.
DRL’s Global Partners
With so much international exposure and the sport set to gain more public attention, it’s little wonder that partners have been queuing up to grab a slice of the action.
Last year, DRL introduced leading global insurance company Allianz as their title sponsor. Since then, DRL has unveiled global partnerships with BMW, Swiss watchmaker Swatch, the U.S. Air Force, Toy State, manufacturer of the DRL Nikko™ Air racing drones, and Fatshark, the FPV (First Person View) headset provider.
More recently, Cox Communications (Cox), the largest private telecom company in the U.S., the General Sport Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia, and Seagate have been signed up.
New Race Locations
So where will DRL be taking its drone racing roadshow this season? Complex, three-dimensional, mile-long courses will be put in place in the following locations:
- Woodward West, the camp for pro skateboarders and BMXers in Tehachapi, California, USA
- University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, the largest enclosed ecological observatory on the planet, located in Oracle, Arizona, USA
- The Adventuredome at Circus Circus Las Vegas, a five-acre indoor amusement park in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Allianz Riviera, a gigantic football stadium in Nice, France
- BMW Welt, the multisensory brand and product experience center of the BMW Group, located in the heart of Munich, Germany
- Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The final location, in Saudi Arabia, was criticised by industry figures when it was announced, due to the country’s oppression of women and DRL’s insistence that drone racing is a sport “open to all genders, physical abilities and cultures”. Quite how the two balance remains to be seen.
At the time of the announcement, trials were still underway to see which pilots would be competing in the 2018 season. Although no women made the final shortlist, how DRL would have handled that outcome bearing in mind the final race venue would have been interesting to say the least.
Bringing Together the Best Drone Pilots in the World
DRL’s eighteen competing FPV pilots for the 2018 season can be seen here.
They will race at each venue across three rounds (ranking, semi-finals and finals) that are made of several heats, each a minute long. They are ranked according to their fastest time and battle it out during the final round for the first-place title
Each winner will be invited to go head to head in the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship event in Saudi Arabia, the first professional drone race to be staged in the kingdom.