Want to improve your FPV drone racing skills? The new DRL simulator might be the key to leveling yourself up to pro drone pilot status.
The Drone Racing League (shortened to DRL) finally released its simulator, called the DRL SIM, on the Epic Games store. The Epic Games Store is a “curated digital storefront” for both PC and Mac, that is designed to better support game developers. Games purchased on the Epic Games Store give more money to the developers than most other purchasing platforms (88% of the price goes directly to developers when purchased through Epic Games, versus 70% on many other stores).
That adds to the growing list of ways to access the DRL Sim, which includes PlayStation, Xbox and Steam. What’s more, the DRL simulator only costs $9.99. For example, it launched on PlayStation 4 this past April, though the original simulator launched back in June 2017.
What is the DRL simulator?
The DRL simulator is designed to help complete newbies learn the basics (there are training missions that’ll take you from player-to-pilot in a few hours), while helping experienced racing pros hone their skills and practice on virtual versions of tracks that they wouldn’t necessarily have access to in real life.
With the simulator, you’ll fly virtual drones through digital versions of famous locations, like landmarkpalaces, NFL stadiums and iconic sports arenas. You’ll get to choose from more than two dozen unique maps, and fly on replicas of 18 different DRL tracks that have actually been used.
There’s even a public leaderboard posted online, so everyone can know who the best simulator pilots really are.
You can also use the game as a way to compete for a chance to become a professional pilot in the Drone Racing League in the league’s annual esports tournament, the DRL SIM Tryouts.
How DRL fits into the drone racing community
DRL is a global, professional drone racing property, consisting of all aspects of the FPV and drone racing lifestyle, including putting on worldwide events, creating its own custom-built racing drones and broadcasting races on TV. The Drone Racing League, which was created in 2015, has raised millions of dollars in funding since its inception, from investors including Hearst Ventures, CAA Ventures and Muse lead singer Matthew Bellamy, and Miami Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross’s venture-capital firm RSE Ventures.
But the launch of the $10 DRL simulator signals that DRL is looking to push into the consumer market and make drone racing more accessible to anyone.
Theoretically someone not ready to drop hundreds of dollars on a racing drone — but who already has an Xbox — might easily drop $10 on a simulator game. From there, that person is hooked on drone racing and might end up buying their own physical drone, and might also tune into (and become a fan of) the live events. In fact, DRL promises that —after completing the training session in the SIM — you’ll be able to fly an FPV drone in the wild.
And growth is here. DRL told The Drone Girl in April 2020 that average year-over-yer viewership increased by nearly 200%, while virtual drone racing participation increased by 90%, and its social media fanbase grew by 60%. A 2020 report from Transparency Market Research predicts that the drone-racing market could reach $786 million by 2027.
And while the simulator is a key step in helping drone racing become more accessible to more people, they’re not the only ones on the mission. The 2021 launch of the DJI FPV drone was also a giant leap for the industry as the Chinese drone maker’s $1,299, ready-to-fly drone wowed fans with its maximum speeds of 87 mph, 4K/60fps 120 Mbps camera and OcuSync video transmission module.
What other drone simulators are out there?
The DRL SIM is a pretty swell pick, particularly given its low price point. The DRL SIM is even considered the best drone simulator for FPV racing in The Drone Girl guide. But it’s not the only simulator out there.
There are dozens of drone simulators on the market for various use cases — ranging from a free DJI simulator to play around with on your phone, to products like the Zephyr drone simulator that aim to teach flying for enterprise applications.
Check out the Drone Girl guide to the best drone simulators to see what other options are out on the market.
Have you used the DRL simulator? What do you think of it, and how does it compare to flying drones in real life? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!