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article imageMeet Nicholas Horbaczewski: Drone Racing League CEO and founder Special

By Markos Papadatos     Apr 24, 2019 in Technology
Nicholas Horbaczewski, the CEO and founder of Drone Racing League (DRL) chatted with Digital Journal about how technology and artificial intelligence have changed the sport of drone racing. He also shared his insights on the future of the robotic sport.
On his plans for the future with DRL, Horbaczewski said, "We are excited to continue bringing the world's premier, professional sports league of the future to our tens of millions of passionate fans around the globe. You will see us constantly innovating the drone technology behind DRL, expanding our race circuit to new legendary venues, hosting more live events for tens of thousands of audience members, and creating the most immersive, futuristic race content to share on top sports media platforms like NBC, Twitter and Sky Sports internationally."
Digital transformation of the sport of drone racing
Regarding the impact of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) on the sport of drone racing, he said, "As a robotic sport, technology is in drone racing's DNA. At DRL, nearly half of our team are engineers who custom-build and design proprietary FPV (First Person View) drones, an RF system, and a true-to-life drone racing DRL Simulator that propel the sport of the future forward."
"One of the innovations we are working on right now is creating the fastest autonomous racing drone for our new Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit, as we believe AI is going to change sports forever," he said.
Drone Racing League (DRL)
Drone Racing League (DRL)
Drone Racing League
Horbaczewski continued, "Today, AI bots can defeat humans in nearly every digital game that exists; however, while we are starting to see some progress with AI-proof-of concepts in motorsports, ping pong, and even basketball, AI has yet to come close to beating humans in physical sports."
"Doing so will require a major technical leap from today's state-of-the-art AI technology, advancing it to a place where AI can interact with, and make sense of, the physical world and unknown conditions, including physical contact from fellow racers, all while navigating a game strategy, race course, set of rules and other complex challenges," he explained.
Drone Racing League
Drone Racing League
Drone Racing League
"We recently partnered with Lockheed Martin to recruit teams of the best engineers to design an AI framework for our new autonomous, racing drones," he said. "We are excited for them to put their code to the test in AIRR this fall, and eventually against the best human pilot as the ultimate AI vs. human drone championship race."
"When AIRR introduces the first AI robot to defeat a human in real-life sports, it will be a historic moment, showcasing an initial step towards a future when autonomous systems will significantly impact the physical (not just the digital) world. Our discoveries through AIRR could one day enable autonomous drones to perform dangerous disaster-relief efforts, like rescuing families from hurricanes and fighting forest fires, while keeping service men and women out of harm's way," he explained.
Drone Racing League (DRL)
Drone Racing League (DRL)
Drone Racing League
When asked when he sees drone racing in the next five years, the CEO responded, "The potential for the sport of professional drone racing is nearly limitless. Our pilots push the boundaries of FPV flight and the DRL team is building some of the most spectacular racing events on the planet, including races at legendary landmarks with compelling audience activations and experiences in professional sports."
Horbaczewski elaborated, "As we continue evolving the technology and designing complex courses, we believe new fans and pilots of all backgrounds will emerge around the world to help build the sport of the future. Plus, with the recent discussions around adding Esports to the Olympics, we can envision new tech-enabled sports, including professional drone racing, becoming medal events in the next few years."
Drone Racing League
Drone Racing League
Drone Racing League
As CEO and founder of DRL, Horbaczewski avidly uses technology in his daily routine. "Running a global sports league means I am often on my Delta app. Whether it's meeting with our international partners, like Allianz, BMW, and Swatch, doing site visits with the iconic venues that are hosting our 2019 DRL Allianz World Championship Season, or presenting company updates to our investors, I travel a ton for DRL on Delta," he said.
He continued, "I am constantly inspired by our team of engineers who are always developing new groundbreaking drone technology in our workshop such as hand-building a fleet of 600 identical racing drones for our elite pilots to fly in our Allianz World Championship Season and designing the Guinness World Record-setting, fastest racing drone on the planet, the DRL RacerX."
"One of the most important innovations that I rely on in my daily life is the DRL Simulator, which you can download on Steam," he said. "With its real-life drone physics, science and data, the SIM has taught me how to fly FPV like the pros. It's fun and fast and lets gamers race virtual versions of the same drones and maps our DRL pilots fly in the league."
Drone Racing League
Drone Racing League
Drone Racing League
"As the sport of the future, DRL is always innovating and evolving our tech, media, and sports events to make each season better than the last," he said. "In the upcoming season, you will see us unveiling a brand new racing drone that will inspire competition like never before, integrating new on-course cameras that will capture the carnage closer than ever, and hosting DRL in new, visually stunning locations; however, for us, the most exciting difference is that DRL will finally be available for fans to watch online and for free."
"Over the last three years, the No. 1 request we got from fans was to bring DRL to an always-on digital platform and a national TV network that anyone could access," he said. "We are thrilled to kick off our 2019 DRL Allianz World Championship Season on Twitter and NBC on Sunday, August 11, 2019, at 2 p.m. EST."
"With an active conversation around DRL on Twitter and racing fans tuning into NBC for motorsports, we are excited to premiere professional drone racing on both of these channels this summer," he concluded.
To learn more about the Drone Racing League, check out its official website.
More about DRL, drone racing league, Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO, Founder
 
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