Competitive drone racing is a burgeoning sport, with serious prize money up for grabs. Racing drones themselves are reasonably priced at around £300 (US$400, AU$550), but to stand a chance in a stadium you’ll need to hone your skills – and even an affordable drone is too much of an investment to risk slamming into a tree when you’re first earning your wings.
That’s where DRL Drone Racing Simulator comes in. This free download has been developed by the US-based Drone Racing League to help you master the fine control needed to ace a real obstacle course at over 60mph. It’s also great fun as a flight sim in its own right – realistic and demanding.
To get the most out of the simulator you’re advised to use a real drone controller. An Xbox or Playstation controller will also do the job, or the good old WASD keyboard controls if you fancy a real challenge.
Why you need it
DRL Drone Racing Simulator offers a training mode that helps you get used to controlling your virtual aircraft – a very different experience to most flight sims. Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are single-player and multiplayer modes that pit you against the clock or other pilots, respectively.
Feeling confident? DRL Drone Racing Simulator also lets you try out for the 2017 Drone Racing League. After entering the tryouts, you’ll compete in 24 heats across four maps and be given a time that represents the aggregate total of all your race times. Check out the leaderboards to see the times to beat. Tryouts are only open to US residents for now.
Bear in mind that DRL Simulator is still in beta, so you might run into the odd glitch here and there (though hopefully nothing on a par with reports of GoPro Karma drones dropping from the sky).