Drone Racing?

April 21, 2016
The use of drones in industrial settings is opening up new realms of data collection and analysis for production optimization. But these flying machines are also poised to enter our collective consciousness on an even bigger level through sport.

If you're wondering what drones have to do with industrial automation, that question will be answered for you by Senior Editor Stephanie Neil in her May feature article, “Industrial Drones Take Flight.”

As she states in the forthcoming article, “Drones are, at their core, data collectors, which perhaps count these robotic flying objects among the many machines that make up the Internet of Things." She goes on to say that "having the ability to pull data collected by drones into other programs is creating a new buzz as it relates to Big Data.”

Her article details how drones are being used in industrial applications to “process workflows and store [data] in the cloud, using a web interface to obtain actionable real-time data” which can be used with “anomaly detection algorithms and pattern recognition software…to identify [problems such as] unauthorized construction and pipeline leaks.”

Neil also highlights Bentley Systems’ use of drones in manufacturing environments to gain a better view of assets for architecting and engineering infrastructure.

I’ll leave further details about the potential for drones to become a new tool for industrial automation applications to Neil’s article, but I do want to highlight a lighter side of drone use that underscores the technology’s growing impact on society at large—drone racing.

The BBC recently covered a drone-racing exhibition at Wembley Stadium, which is not the first of its kind. Last March the World Drone Prix was held in Dubai with the winner receiving $250,000.

See BBC’s coverage of drone racing.

More recently, ESPN announced that it will broadcast the International Drone Racing Association’s three-day U.S. National Drone Racing Championships event to be held in New York on August 5-7, 2016.

See the promo for the 2016 National Drone Racing Championships.

The sport of drone racing is clearly still in its infancy—with many competitors building their own drones or buying them for a few hundred dollars, according to the BBC report. This is a far cry from the industrial drones addressed in Neil’s article, which can cost into the tens of thousands of dollars. But it does show the degree to which drone technology is beginning to permeate our everyday lives—from business to sport.

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