Perhaps the flashiest lights of all time are coming to the Las Vegas Strip next year. The Drone Racing League (DRL) has named a venue for the DRL Algorand World Championship Season 2021-22 finale. Given that the season has been sponsored by T-Mobile, it’s no surprise that the big, ultimate race will take place on an outdoor course along the Las Vegas strip at T-Mobile Arena.
And it’s happening on a high-profile night. The race coincides with opening night of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Wednesday, Jan, 5, 2022. CES is largely considered to be the largest, most influential tech trade show in the world, and (at least in pre-COVID times), draws massive crowds.
It’s likely that big crowds could turn out for this event, as the DRL 2021-22 finale is set to feature the world’s best drone pilots, a custom-designed aerial race track, and even an accompanying concert. DRL anticipates thousands of fans could be in attendance. And one of those fans can be you, as attendance is free and open to the public. DRL asks that you sign up to experience the live drone race on their website here. Upon signing up, expect to receive more detailed information about event access.
The T-Mobile Arena is a relative newcomer to the Las Vegas Strip, having opened in 2016 as a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and the Anschutz Entertainment Group. It’s located adjacent to the New York-New York and the Park MGM casino hotels.
During the race, the competing pilots will fly their own custom FPV drones at roughly 90 mph speeds through gates set up around Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena.
“Drones will illuminate with a thousand LED lights while soaring through neon-colored and magenta course elements, transforming the race into the most eye-catching technology demonstration on the Las Vegas Strip,” according to a statement from DRL.
But while the race will be recorded, it won’t air for everyone else until more than a month later. The DRL Vegas Championship Race is scheduled to air on Saturday, Feb. 12th and Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 at 1 p.m. EST on NBC or — for the cord-cutting folk out there — Twitter.
The Drone Racing League has been around since 2015, having since raised millions of dollars in funding from investors including Hearst Ventures, Muse lead singer Matthew Bellamy and Miami Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross’s venture-capital firm RSE Ventures. Earlier this year, DRL announced another big partnership with T-Mobile with the launch of its first-ever 5G DRL racing drone. That magenta drone allows the live streaming of high-definition racing footage so fans can see the pilot’s first person view racing footage in real-time over a high-definition feed with minimal latency or delay.
The DRL 2021-22 season premiered on Sept. 29, 2021, bringing together the world’s 12 best drone pilots to face 14 levels of racing through both iconic sports arenas and DRL SIM virtual maps. Other physical courses throughout the season have included Allianz Field in Minnesota (home to Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United) and the FedExForum in Tennessee.
What else to expect at CES 2022
CES has always been a thrill for drone fans, and the event has a history of featuring drone-themed entertainment. During CES 2018, Intel drones flew over the Bellagio fountains to a rendition of the song “Stargazing” by Kygo. No word if there will be a light show, though the drone race alone should be exciting entertainment.
As far as indoor events, head to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Women to Watch in UAS 2021 awards will be presented live at CES 2022 for the first time ever (they previously have been held at the Interdrone conference, though 2021 Interdrone was cancelled). The annual Women to Watch awards are hosted by online drone community Women and Drones and honors up-and-coming females in the drone industry. Nominations are made online, culminating in the big event in-person to celebrate the honorees.
Will you be tuning into the DRL 2021-22 finale? Better yet, think you can snag a chance to see it in real life in Vegas? That would be the dream!