E-Sports, Drones & Robot Racers: The Future Of Racing?

11 Oct 09:00 by Jamie Silman


If you’re a fan of Formula 1, there’s a good chance you’re starting to find each season somewhat predictable.

Barring any driver errors, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull dominate the race weekends, and the championship is normally all but decided by about race number four.

It often feels like the exciting wheel-to-wheel racing of yesteryear has been replaced by grid penalties, undercutting pit strategies, and overbearing politics from the organisers.

And while there’s plans overhaul the look and performance of cars for the 2021 season, in a bid to make the races more competitive, it’s possible many fans won’t wait that long, with many already growing tired with how monotonous the sport has become.

But could new technology mean motorsport is the next industry to face complete disruption?



Last week, Millennial E-Sports announced plans to build the world’s first dedicated e-sports arena in Miami in 2020.

According to a press release, the planned arena will be home to “30 racing simulators which can be raced on individually, linked with the other racing rigs in the building or globally networked to compete against drivers from all over the world.”

With the global e-sports audience expected to grow to reach more than 500 million by 2021, it seems Liberty Media, the owners of Formula 1, are already testing the waters of what e-racing can help F1 achieve.

If you follow F1 on social media, you’ll probably have already noticed regular content based around the Esports Series, a racing series with teams competing for their share of $500,000 prize fund.



The edge the Esports Series has over the regular series is that anyone can take part in the qualification process by simply racing at home on their console or PC, with the chance to become an official driver, competing in the F1 Esports Pro Series.

This unique aspect of e-racing gives fans the chance to see how their times compare to the Pros, which arguably gives them a stronger connection to the racing they watch during the season.

But it’s not just e-sports that could take a bite out of motorsports’ viewership.


Drone Racing

With sponsors like BMW, The US Airforce, and Lockheed Martin, the Drone Racing League is another sport that offers viewers the excitement that other motorsports may have lost.

Described by the league itself as combining “the thrill of Star Wars pod-racing with the real-world adrenaline of Formula 1” the DRL features drones racing at over 90 mph through 3D courses that look like they’ve been dreamt up by a video game designer.

But this isn’t just some rag-tag bunch of enthusiasts hiring out a warehouse.

The racing is aired on sports networks across the world, including Sky Sports, ESPN, Twitter, and Fox Sports Asia, reaching 57 million fans in 90 countries!



It certainly looks a lot more exciting than some of the Formula 1 races we’ve had in recent years.



If the lack of a physical car bothers you, then perhaps RoboRace will be more your cup of tea.

The concept was developed to bring about the faster development of autonomous vehicles, with the final vision for the league being manually controlled cars being pitted against fully autonomous competitors.



A full league is likely still a few years away, but it certainly seems that the lack of a driver would make it possible for teams to perform more outrageous manoeuvres at higher speeds – or at least that’s what I’ll be hoping for!


Whichever way you look at it, traditional motorsports are going to have a lot more to compete with over the coming years, and it will be interesting to see how they evolve to cope with the increased competition.