This is no DJI Phantom

You Can Get Your Hands on This Professional Racing Drone, If You Think You Can Fly It


August 7, 2019 Tech By

Companies like DJI and Parrot have brought quadcopters to the masses with consumer-grade, fully-stabilized drones that are a dream to fly. But the drones professional fliers use for racing are a completely different beast. Now as part of a Kickstarter by the Drone Racing League, you can buy pretty much the same drone that its racers use, if you think you have what it takes to fly it.

Racing drones come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are hand-built by racers themselves. But the Drone Racing League, which has teamed up with NBC to try and take drone racing mainstream, is a spec series: everyone flies an identical drone, and DRL Racer4 Street is it. Available as the reward for a $600 Kickstarter donation, the Racer4 Street has a modular design for easy repairability (you will be crashing it) and a heck of a lot of prop-power, but it’s maybe more notable for what it doesn’t do. Unlike self-stabilizing drones you’d use for recreation or photography which right themselves and hover in place when you take your hands off the controls, the Racer4 Street is designed to be flown without that helping hand. This manual control makes it extremely nimble, but also legitimately hard to keep in the air at all, unless you have some baseline piloting skill.

At $600, the Racer4 Street is pretty expensive for a drone that is, by design, difficult to fly. If you’d like to find out what flying one is like without spending several hundred dollars, the Drone Racing League has an extremely true-to-life simulator which costs $20 and other sims are even free. As for the pros, they’ll be starting the latest season this weekend on NBC and streaming on Twitter on August 11th at 2 p.m. ET.

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