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The Drone Champions League (DCL) features the world’s best pilots who have qualified by playing the game of the same name. These players are then drafted into pro teams and compete in real drone racing events. 

The DCL 2023 was won by none other than XBlades. The British team has been utterly dominant since bursting onto the scene in 2016 when the league was first launched. XBlades has recorded 24 wins and 51 podiums. The secret behind their success lies in their ability to identify talented pilots and develop drone innovations.

Despite being a British team, XBlades is very international. They have pilots from Russia, France, South Korea, Germany, the USA, and the UK. MinChan Kim from South Korea is a particularly talented operator and has won the Pilot of the Year award.

It’s amazing how XBlades has separated themselves from their competition and continues to win high-level competitions. XBlades noted that other teams are closing the gap, however, they said they welcome the increased competition. Let’s look back at the three final races that led to XBlades claiming their DCL 2023 title!

Split 1: Raiden Racing Is Too Good in Zurich, Switzerland

This virtual drone race took place on the idyllic shores of Lake Zurich, Switzerland, and really tested the pilots’ fine motor skills as they had to navigate tight corners and different terrain. Despite going into the race as heavy favorites, XBlades were no match for Raiden Racing, who took home first place.

Six teams lined up to take on the Zurich course. After some amazing racing during the qualifying stages, only two teams remained, Raiden and Quad Force One. Both teams were at the top of the game, showing incredible drone racing prowess, and were tearing through the course. 

The two teams were very evenly matched, so the event came down to the final heat between Vicent Mayans from Raiden Racing and Leviathan from Quad Force. Mayans showed ice-cold composure as they won by just 0.01 seconds and sealed the win for Raiden Racing.

Split 2: XBlades Soars Past Competition in Abu Dhabi

After a disappointing performance at Split 1, XBlades were hungry to get revenge and let the world know they were still the top dogs. However, in their path were reigning Split 1 champs Raiden Racing, Split 1 finalists Quad Force, and other talented teams like Cyclone Drone Racing and China Dragons.

The Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi saw some world-class drone racing. The virtual race took place in the Abu Dhabi skies. Raiden Racing and Cycling Drone Racing showed impressive form, but ultimately, XBlades were too strong and returned to their winning ways. They unveiled an ultra-aggressive racing strategy that was too much for their opponents. XBlades, despite being a veteran team, continues to innovate.

With XBlades’ win in Abu Dhabi, they were within touching distance of winning another championship. However, they still had to prove their worth at the last event of the year, the Super Final in Saudi Arabia! 

Super Final: Saudi Arabia Plays Host to XBlades’ Flawless Victory

The Super Final took place in the stunning old town of AlUla, Saudi Arabia, in a beautiful amphitheater. In a hard-fought battle, Thomas Kund came up clutch for XBlades Racing and steered the British team to victory. There was nothing the opponents could do but watch the reigning champions effortlessly move around the course in their trademark style. They showed no fear whenever teams got on their tail! 

PropsicleFPV Wins Pilot of the Year

17-year-old Silas Aaaron, who goes by the name of PropsicleFPV and is the captain of Quad Force One, won the Pilot of the Year award. Zachary Ruschak, known as ZionFPV, won the Rookie of the Year award. ZionFPV was on fire during the Split 2 Finals in Abu Dhabi, and he looks like the next superstar pilot, keep an eye on him during the DCL 2024 season! 

Get Ready for the DCL 2024 Season

If the DCL 2024 is even half as good as last season, then we’re in for a treat. The DCL 2024 kickoffs in February following the pilot draft at the end of January, head over to the DCL official website to find the latest racing news!

Sport Enthusiast, Builder of brands, and proud founder of Machina Sports, dedicated to pioneering the fusion of human athleticism with cutting-edge technology. Committed to creating a global platform and brand that celebrates the excitement and innovation inherent in Machina Sports while engaging a diverse community of enthusiasts and athletes worldwide.

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Teacher Turned FPV Drone Racing Pilot: FuturePlay Exclusive with Mako Reactra

Explore how Ryan Lessard, also known as Mako Reactra, balances her career as a teacher with her passion for FPV drone racing. Learn about her journey into the world of FPV drones, her training regimen, and how she integrates technology into education.

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FuturePlay Custom - Interview with Mako Reactra

Long gone are the times where teachers were just “teaching” what they were hired to teach. An US teacher – Ryan Lessard aka Mako Reactra has been recently nominated by her school as a research organizer about the AI. But before get into Mako’s journey into FPV Drone Racing. What are FPV Drones? Learn more about it here!

Transition from Teaching to FPV Drone Racing

Mako’s foray into FPV drone racing traces back to the end of 2017 she got a chance to see how FPV Drones (Tiny whoops to be precise) look like and fly – she was hooked. The transition from indoor flying with Tiny Whoops to mastering the complexities of five-inch drones as the snow thawed marked the beginning of what would become a remarkable racing career. She recalls, “I immediately got into racing…and I’ve been racing ever since.” Her journey has seen her compete in numerous MultiGP championship races and represent the United States at the World Games in 2022, not to mention racing with the Drone Champions League (DCL) team, Makoane.

Despite the demands of the racing circuit, Mako’s love for flying spans across different styles. From freestyling to long-range flying and back to Tiny Whoops, the diversity of her flight experiences enriches her racing technique and strategic understanding of FPV drones.

The Passion to Teach: Beyond the Racing Track

What sets Ryan apart from many other pilots is the fact that she is not doing it all for herself – She also does it for her students. As a teacher and educator Mako is leveraging her passion to technology in the classrooms and schools. Her students and fellow educators appreciate her work in both industries, as she tries to juggle all of the responsibilities connected with them.

“So I’m very busy, but it’s a good busy. It’s fun,” Ryan states.

Training Thyself: The Quest for Improvement

But obviously – being an FPV Drone Racing pilot is not just showing up to a race – it does involve training and Ryan is blessed with a big backyard. In the interview with FuturePlay, Host – Lexie Janson – Ryan elaborates on the nature of her training regimen involving real-life practice and simulator practice.

“I try to fly between six to ten [packs] when I have a good amount of time,”

Ryan shares, highlighting the disciplined approach to her practice sessions. Moreover, her role as an educator overlaps with her training philosophy, as she often incorporates educational elements into her preparation, aiming to bridge the gap between technology and intuitive skill.

Do you want to know more?

Check out the full interview with Ryan on the FuturePlay YouTube channel and learn more about FPV Drone racing careers that are available now!

Read More: Issa Kalfon – World’s Jet Pack Racing Champion

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Infinite Reality’s New Move with Drone Racing League

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DRL FPV Drone Racing

Infinite Reality, a leading developer of AI-driven experiences, has completed the acquisition of the Drone Racing League for an impressive $250 million. This strategic move not only elevates the company’s valuation to a staggering $3.5 billion but also marks a significant expansion of its presence in the virtual reality domain.

With a diverse portfolio encompassing cutting-edge technologies such as digital worldbuilding, blockchain-based assets, and revenue-sharing social media platforms, Infinite Reality is at the forefront of innovation in sports and entertainment. According to John Acunto, CEO of Infinite Reality, this acquisition represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of sports entertainment, poised to deliver immersive experiences powered by state-of-the-art technology and fueled by passionate fandom, creativity, and community engagement.

The Acquisition

Originally slated for an early 2024 initial public offering through Newbury Street Acquisition Corporation, Infinite Reality’s plans were granted a six-month extension by stockholders in March to finalize the deal. This acquisition follows Infinite Reality’s previous endeavors, including the addition of esports teams Rogue and the London Royal Ravens, along with investments in a content production studio and talent management firm focused on online personalities.

Notable figures in the industry, including Stephen Ross of RSE Ventures and Eric Hippeau of Lerer Hippeau, commend the strategic synergy between iR and DRL, highlighting the companies’ shared commitment to innovation and cultural relevance.

As part of the acquisition, DRL CEO & Founder Nicholas Horbaczewski will take the role of iR Global President, while DRL President Rachel Jacobson will be promoted to iR President, Global Business Ventures and Partnerships. This integration of world-class teams with decades of experience across top brands sets the stage for unprecedented growth and innovation in the immersive technology and entertainment space.

Looking ahead, iR and DRL envision a future marked by professional drone racing stadiums, global championship events, and AI-powered experiences that blur the line between digital and reality. With expanded value for partners such as the U.S. Air Force, Vodafone, and WarnerMedia, among others, iR is poised to redefine the possibilities in immersive technology, digital media, and entertainment industries.

DRL

Recognized for its groundbreaking approach to professional drone racing, DRL has garnered acclaim for its integration of high-tech robotics, AI, and visually stunning content. Founded in 2015, the league boasts a global footprint of 320 million households and 260 million digital views globally on race content during its 2022-2023 season, thanks to its extensive media distribution deals. Notably, DRL’s TikTok account boasts an impressive following of 5.4 million followers.

Described as a tech company first, DRL has made strides in immersive content and video games, attracting sponsorships from notable entities such as the U.S. Air Force. Brigadier General Christopher Amrhein of the U.S. Air Force lauded DRL for engaging a coveted audience passionate about flight, innovation, and technology.

DRL’s impressive roster of investors includes Stephen Ross’ RSE Ventures, Liberty Media, WWE, and notable partners such as Google Cloud, Allianz, and T-Mobile, along with title sponsor Algorand. With Infinite Reality at the helm, the future of sports and entertainment is poised to reach unprecedented heights of innovation and engagement.

Read More: What is FPV Drone Racing?

About Infinite Reality

Infinite Reality (iR) leads the way in blending technology and entertainment, creating cutting-edge, AI-driven immersive experiences. Their immersive solutions empower brands and creators to control how their content is shared, engage with audiences, and make money, all while safeguarding their data. Drawing on their Hollywood expertise, iR pioneers immersive experiences that enhance the connection between brands, content, and audiences, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in digital realms.

Recently, Infinite Reality (iR) introduced the Infinite Reality Engine, complementing their existing suite of products. Renowned for its end-to-end web frameworks, the Engine enables the development of virtual spaces with exceptional user interfaces, furthering the mission to revolutionize digital experiences.

The integration of the Engine has propelled Infinite Reality towards its vision, elevating brand engagement to new heights. Leveraging their extensive expertise in digital space design and creation, iR optimizes content creation, paid media strategies, and overall engagement initiatives.

What This Collab Could Mean

Infinite Reality’s acquisition of the Drone Racing League (DRL) heralds a groundbreaking era of innovation and success for the league and Machina Sports, on the whole. Leveraging Infinite Reality’s expertise in immersive technology and entertainment, the partnership promises to revolutionize the DRL’s platform. With cutting-edge AI-powered experiences, fan engagement will soar to new heights, captivating audiences worldwide. 

First and foremost, Infinite Reality’s vast resources and technological capabilities will provide the DRL with the necessary tools and support to enhance its existing platform. The infusion of cutting-edge AI-powered immersive experiences will elevate the fan engagement and viewing experience, making drone racing even more captivating and thrilling for audiences worldwide.

Moreover, Infinite Reality’s commitment to innovation and creativity will enable the DRL to explore new avenues for growth and expansion. By leveraging Infinite Reality’s expertise in digital content creation and distribution, the DRL can explore new content formats, engage with audiences across multiple platforms, and attract a broader fan base.

Additionally, as part of the Infinite Reality ecosystem, the DRL will have access to a wealth of strategic partnerships and collaborations. This network of industry leaders and innovators will open doors to new opportunities for sponsorship, media distribution, and brand integration, further solidifying the DRL’s position as a premier sports and entertainment property.

The alignment of values and vision between Infinite Reality and the DRL ensures a seamless integration and collaborative approach to future initiatives. Both entities share a passion for pushing the boundaries of technology and entertainment, making them ideal partners for driving innovation in the drone racing industry.

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Red Bull Drone Teaches F1 Champion a Thing or Two About Racing

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Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing

On February 13, 2024, Ralph Hogenbirk performed an incredible feat. Using his Red Bull Drone 1, he followed Red Bull’s flash new Formula One car for an entire lap, filming the whole thing. Hogenbirk, aka Shaggy, wasn’t just following any driver on the Silverstone Circuit, but reigning champion Max Verstappen.

Verstappen was thoroughly impressed, saying, “This could change how people watch Formula 1.” Incredibly, due to the poor weather, Shaggy only had one opportunity to follow the F1 car. The car was also spraying water all over the track, and Shaggy had no clue when Verstappen was going to brake.

The Dutch F1 world champion said, “I didn’t recognize the drone; I didn’t know it was following me whilst driving and it was very close to me in some places, so it’s great to see.” 

Shaggy says piloting his drone is even harder than driving an F1 car. The drone pilot had to focus on Verstappen and his car intently and react instantly when the Dutch driver decided to brake. Even the slightest error would cause the drone and car to become too far away from each other and ruin the shot.

Red Bull Drone Faster Than Formula One Car

Shaggy’s custom-built drone can reach speeds of up to 350kph and accelerates twice as fast as an F1 car. The drone is also loaded with two 4k cameras. Hogenbirk says there are many similarities between driving a drone and racing. He says that as the drone’s speed increases, “it becomes more sensitive, so I have to keep that in mind in order to fly the drone properly.”

However, drone flying isn’t nearly as physical as commanding an F1 car. F1 drivers experience g-forces ranging from 4 G to 6.5 G and need to have iron-like grips and immovable necks. Driving an F1 car is also often fueled by adrenaline, while drone pilots need to stay very calm and relaxed.

Shaggy said, “My mind feels like it’s in the drone. I’m fully connected, it’s like an out-of-body experience. There’s some adrenaline even though I’m sitting in my chair, not moving.”

To stay calm, Shaggy doesn’t meditate. Instead, his cool, calm demeanor comes from his intimate knowledge of his drone and his belief in his piloting skills. He said, “For me, the focus is about knowing exactly what the drone could do in each situation and knowing what I can do in each situation. And then just forcing myself to stay calm and not let the nervousness leak through.”

To be a good drone pilot, you need to block out distractions from the outside world. It’s vital you stay in the moment and only focus on the task at hand. And based on Shaggy’s skills displayed at Silverstone Circuit, he could write a book on drone piloting.

The Drone Stays With New Red Bull F1 Car for the Entire Lap

The Red Bull drone completed a world first by staying with the Formula One car for an entire lap. This represents an important step in drone and motion technology. Shaggy was forced to constantly adjust the altitude up and down based on what Verstappen was doing on the track.

During straights, the Red Bull drone increased its altitude to avoid the air rushing off the car’s back wing. To stay in control of the drone, Shaggy hovered 10m over the race track. However, when Verstappen came into a corner and began braking, the drone would lurch closer and closer. In some instances, the drone was just a few meters from Verstappen’s car, which resulted in some incredible footage.

Now that Red Bull has proved that it can film F1 racing with drones, it’s time to continue testing and improving the process. The goal is to produce a live HD video feed that can be used to stream Formula One races around the globe. Shaggy sees multiple drones being used to cover a variety of angles of a race, giving fans a unique perspective.

You can watch the entire lap from the drone’s view on Red Bull’s YouTube channel. The camera angle is unique and adds a whole new viewing experience. We’re sure it won’t be long until the F1 incorporates drone footage into its race coverage.

Read More: Drone Racing to be part of 2025 World Games in China

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