A souped up super racing drone for everyone

Building a racing drone from scratch takes expertise and lots of money. The Drone Racing League has an alternative.

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If you want to drive for Uber but need a ride, you can get a car from Fair. Now, if you're going to race in the Drone Racing League (DRL) -- or if you want to challenge some friends to an air sprint around the goalposts -- you can get a performance off-the-shelf drone for under $600. 

The drone is called the DRL Racer4 Street, and it's designed specifically for first-person-view (FPV) racing. The DRL, which is a professional racing league, will use customized versions of the Racer4 in its upcoming 2019 Allianz World Championship Season, which begins August 11 and will be broadcast on NBC and Twitter.

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It's a smart way for the league, which has a growing television footprint and fanbase, to use its growing stature to expand into the consumer drone market. 

"We're incredibly excited to launch the DRL Racer4 and the street model for everyone to experience the thrill and speed of professional drone racing, says DRL founder Nicholas Horbaczewski. "The DRL Racer4 will make our 2019 DRL Allianz World Championship Season more competitive than ever and finally give our fans what they've been asking us for: a DRL drone they can fly."

The street-ready version of the Racer4 was designed in-house by DRL with special attention to the visual wonder of drone racing. The hard-edged, carbon-fiber canopy has 1,000 colorful LED lights that animate designs and patterns while the drone is in flight. It's also, of course, a fleet-coptered racer, generating 16 pounds of thrust via its 1250kv motors and 7x4x3 inch props. 

Since drones crash a lot when they race, repairability is a key feature of a competitive design. The Racer4 is modular and can be repaired within 15 minutes, according to the league.

If you're new to the spectator sport of drone racing, it's a lot of fun. The DRL has made an art of building heart-pumping courses packed with hairpin turns and lots of visual effects. Upcoming races will have racers diving down buildings and iconic venues. It's a little like Formula 1, only at a much lower entry point.

Of course, it's far easier to become a fan if you're also a hobbyist racer. The DRL knows that, which is why, in addition to pursuing smart broadcasting partnerships and focusing on big markets, it's pressing into the consumer drone space. 

The DRL Racer4 Street will set you back $599 and is available for pre-order on Kickstarter.