Is VR Drone Racing Set To Explode After Star Wars?
Drones are no longer just for the army or for the remote controlled plane hobbyist with deep pockets anymore. They are lighter, faster and cheaper than they were last year and their popularity is on the increase and showing no sign of stopping. Somebody in your street has a drone, soon we could be flooded with the devices. So if your neighbor's aren't using it to look over the garden fence and spy on you what are they doing with it?
They could be using it for VR racing, using small drones that start off at around £250. People meet up at the weekends and fly around a set track in much the same way people do with remote controlled cars. The track though is in the air and usually has hazards and or loops to navigate around the course. A proper rig including a headset used to view the onboard camera can cost from £500 to £1000. You can of course spend much more on higher end drones but the costs are falling as the sport grows in popularity.
Parrot make a lot of different models at the cheaper end of the market but are about to release the Bebop, a new drone that comes with its own controller, rather than being controlled through a mobile app as with previous Parrot drone models. Mobile app control helps Parrot to keep the cost of their drones low as customers won’t have to pay for a controller as well up front, so they are a perfect starting place for anybody wanting to experience flying a drone for themselves. The downside to mobile app control is that it isn’t that responsive, the small delay or lag makes fine movements difficult.
The Bebop has avoided a gimbal attachment to hold onto a digital camera and point it at what the user wants. They have put a new 180 degree wide angle fisheye lens on a camera mounted centrally between the rotors. It looks less like a toy now and more like a flying HD camera, which this unit essentially is. Rather than moving the camera lens to track around the shot, the user can pan digitally across the 180 wind angle field of view. This approach makes the drone lighter, cheaper and easier to use with less moving parts and things to go wrong.One of the main advantages of the Bebop is that it is easy to use it with many different VR headset systems, including the Oculus, Zeiss and many others. Parrot have seen all the different VR headsets and systems emerging and made their new drone compatible with as many of them if not all.
This holiday season there is big film franchise called Star Wars returning, and they have a drone Millennium Falcon with lights and sound effects as part of the massive marketing machine that comes with the movies. How many new Star Wars drone pilots will take up drone racing in the future?
VR Drone racing is set to grow in my opinion, and with drones having so many different applications and uses, from photography, racing and entertainment, to aiding search and rescue teams by providing mobile cell signals to emergency services working in areas affected by disasters. That toy your child will be playing with next year could turn into his or her career in the future.