Red Bull is the latest big name to throw its weight behind the emerging sport, hosting its first drone racing tournament over the weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.
Drone racing has quickly grown to become serious business, and is now for all intents and purposes a professional sport. In 2015 we saw the first US National Championships offer racers a slice of US$25,000, an amount that was eclipsed in a big way by last year's $1 million World Drone Prix in Dubai. The sport's rising popularity was recognized by ESPN last year, which signed a broadcast deal with the International Drone Racing Association to showcase a series of similarly cashed up events.
Red Bull says its event is a little different to those before it, however. Racers can fly any type of drone weighing up to 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) they want, while size is limited only by the smallest obstacle gate that measures 50 cm (50 in) in diameter. This allows strategy to come into play, as racers prioritize speed over longer flying time or vice versa, while they also need to make a mandatory pitstop to either swap out the battery or repair their vehicle.