• Jen Booton

Human Drone Racing on Life-Sized Obstacle Courses

Drone Champions League tests 'manned' 12-motor drone

The Drone Champions League (DCL) recently tested a large aerobatic drone with a human dummy on board. The league says it hopes to one day launch an air race with manned drones flying through life-sized obstacle courses.

The historic maiden flight of the 12-motor coaxial multicopter took place in Vrsar, Croatia around the release of DCL’s new video game and simulator, DCL - The Game. In a video of the flight, the DCL drone is seen whipping extreme tricks such as rolls and loops from a hovering position.

“Basically we started with very small drones that were super fast and nobody could really follow. So we made it bigger and then bigger and then people said it’s still too small,” said DCL CEO Herbert Weirather. “So now let’s make a really big now where we could potentially have manned drone racing one day.”

The drone was designed after the Formula 1 monocoque (body). It currently has a 12-foot wingspan and weighs more than 300 pounds. While a human dummy was aboard the maiden test flight, DCL hopes to eventually man it with an actual human.

For now, the video is serving as a promotion for the league’s just-released DCL - The Game. The game enables players to control authentic drones at high velocities through technical tracks to hone their actual flight control skills and compete to qualify for a DCL pro contract.

One of DCL’s biggest competitors is the Drone Racing League (DRL), which has been using a flight simulator over the past few years to attract new people to the sport and recruit pro pilots. The DRL is currently hosting esport tryouts through its simulator.