10 ways drones will impact sports

10 ways how drones will have a huge impact on sports

The number of drone assisted applications is ever increasing following the technological advancement of these flying eyes. Drones will be everywhere in the future. Sports will also see big changes following this trend. Below we will briefly discuss 10 ways how drones will impact sports.

Drones will play an ever more important role in our lifes

Undoubtedly you have seen them flying and zooming around high in the sky! These funny little machines, moving around like little flies eyeing you from the clouds. Drones or UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)! If you have not seen them, you have been living under a rock and you have missed one of the main technological trends going forward. This trend will play an ever increasing role in our lifes! Whether it is in agriculture, surveillance, security, entertainment, logistics, sports, healthcare or any other segment, drones will become ever more important and are here to stay. The drone market is already a multi billion market creating thousands of jobs and it should be no surprise that this is just the beginning.

Also interesting to read: 10 great technologies that will determine the future of sports

Sportsworld will also benefit

Clearly drones have already started to make an impact on the world of sports. The combination of surveillance from the sky, movement, data collection, Artificial Intelligence, lifting power and cameras make a drone ideally suitable for all kind of different applications in sports. Some of these apps are disruptive, others are totally new and give sports additional incentives. Drones are instrumental in some of the newly emerging trends in sports (see 11 important trends in the world of sports). Moreover, as a result of economies of scale, they become ever more cheaper. Below we will discus 10 segments in sports where drones will have a big impact in the years to come.

1. Game/training analytics: drones delivering added value

Clearly, a birds eye view gives a different perspective compared to a worms eye one. Often you see managers/coaches wearing headsets frantically communicating with assistant coaches sitting high up in the stadium. From above, it is easier to analyse patterns, game tactics and strategy! However, drones go a step further. Not only are they able to fly around, they also are equipped with cameras, which can record training sessions or games. After such a session, the recordings can be studied in detail and adjustments can be made to individual and team behaviour and tactics. Even better, AI can immediately send feedback on what is actually happening and hence enhance results.

But there is more! Think about drones equipped with sensors, measuring all kind of variables, varying from wind to weather to acceleration etc.

Drone analytics

2. Event and stadium logistics: delivery at your seat

Drones can play an important role in catering to fans in stadiums (see blogpost) or at events. Think about it! Wouldn’t it be nice if you don’t have to qeue for your hamburger or beverage. Instead you will order from your seat by using an app on your phone. Moments later, the drone will deliver you your order. Obviously, this will still be some time away, as a capacity crowd would probably lead to congestion above your head. However, combined with AI, this might be solved rather sooner than later.

In the mean time expect drones to stock concession stands when required, certainly with drones capable now to lift heavy items. Air delivery is likely to become a more efficient way of transportation when compared to ground delivery.

Drone delivery at your seat a possibility? Source: Grabcad

Also interesting to read: 10 ways robots will positively impact sports

3. Pre-game and halftime entertainment: drones adding to the experience

Drones are a perfect way to entertain fans before a game and/or during half time. A wide array of interactive games can be played with the fans. Let me fantasize a bit: the gameball being delivered by a man on a drone; a drone dropping a present or football or whatever in the part of the stadium that creates the loudest noise; drones that are performing a spectacular show, highlighting the hometeam; a drone droping a ball from high in the sky to selected fans on the field trying to catch it. I am sure the creatives amongst us can think of loads of different opportunities here.

The video below of the Olympics is just an example of what can be done to deliver the fan a better experience.

4. Security and sanitation: a threat and a blessing

Obviously drones are as much a threat to stadiums and events as they are a protection. I am sure you can imagine drones entering a stadium from high above. I don’t have to tell you what malicious minds could think off. Luckily, several technologies are on their way (or already present) that could stop a drone attack in time. On the other side of the spectrum, drones also offer an opportunity to make people feel safer. For example, drones can be used for crowd control purposes. Authorities and organisers will be able to monitor a large area in an efficient manner. In case of congestions or other problems, they can take immediate action. This should make fans feel more secure.

Or what about crowd sanitation. With Covid 19 fresh in our minds, sanitation is an issue. Watch the video below what the Rangers are doing. Drone spraying sould make the crowd feel more safe. Drones are spraying a cleaning solution that, according to its manufacturer, will protect surfaces from germs, including the coronavirus, for more than 30 days.

5. Broadcasting: a better viewing experience

Drones are able to fly to places where people can’t. Sofar, camera positions have always been static. Not too long ago the flycam was introduced, a camera attached to a wire that could deliver a great view from above. However, with drones we may enter an entirely new era in broadcasting. Drones are able to fly with the action, offering some amazing angles (which the flycam can’t) as the underlying video clearly shows. It might still take some time because of safety regulations (as the second video shows), but it will be there!

This way sports broadcasting will no longer be what it was before. Fans will be treated with a much better viewing experience than ever before. From an outdoor perspective, events will be covered much better with the assistance of drones. For example offshore sailing races like the Ocean Race can now be followed live by drones. But there is more! What to think of adventure races, motoGP or Formula One (nice video!) followed from above or from a sideways angle. Just think a minute of what the possibilities are. Drones will not just provide the visuals, but also the feeling. It is as if you are there. It will mean that watching sports will become an experience. I cannot wait!

6. Refereeing: drones will make more accurate decisions in the future than humans

With the help of AI, drones are likely to make more accurate decisions than humans. For the time being they are likely to be only used as kind of a backup device that is able to assist the referee rather than replace him. However, as AI is progressing very rapidly I definitely do not exclude a drone referee assisted by a human that can take care of, for example, player behaviour and emotions. In any case, drones will limit the number of mistakes made in refereeing, which in turn will mean a fairer game.

7. Aerial mapping for great terrain overview

Clearly a drone helps in surveying and mapping the terrain below. If you are a golfer, I am sure you already have seen short little videos of drones giving an overview of each separate golf hole of a particular course. This way you know what you can expect. Ofcourse there are plenty of other sports to think of, where mapping could be of added value. Think of skiing, mountain biking, cycling, adventure racing etc. Preparation is half of the fun!

8. New sports: drone racing and drone soccer

Humans are creative and hence it didn’t take long before a new sport was created with drones: drone racing! This is pretty spectacular as drones equipped with cameras race each other steered by pilots wearing head-mounted displays showing the live stream camera feed from the drones. The goal is to complete a course as quick as possible. It can be done outdoors but also in stadiums indoors and yes, it delivers some great and spectacular views. No doubt this appeals to GenZ (see blogpost) given the (game-like)technology it requires.

But there is more! In South Korea they have invented drone soccer. Drone soccer is a fast-growing new air sport that involves two teams up to five players per team whose aim is to score the highest number of goals. It is futuristic and fun to watch!

Or how about drone sumo? The rules are simple; try to get the other drone down and out!

9. Spinoff sports: let the fun begin!

And yes, if a new sports has come to the fore, it doesn’t take long before the first spinoffs are popping up, whereby the drone serves as a tool in an existing sports. What to think of dronesurfing and droneboarding?Dronesurfing is a combination of a drone and kitesurfing and creates a spectacular sport. Wind is no longer required! It is typical GenZ: fun, a reflection of your identity, free spirited and technology is part of it. I believe it is a perfect example of lateral thinking. The water calls! Enjoy your ride!

The same counts for droneboading! It is snowboarding with the assistance of a drone. It creates additional fun in the snow and especially going up the slopes, it may save a lot of energy. Do I see an opportunity for draglifts being replaced by drones here?!

10. Adventure footage and selfdocumentation helmet cameras to be replaced?

The gopro was until now one way of recording your own adventure. A gopro on your helmet could give great birdseye footage of your own downhill ski-adventure or your efforts to ride a huge wave or cycling down a mountain or through a forest. The drone will offer you even greater footage as the underlying video shows. Drones will automatically follow you from high in the sky, giving a much better recording of your adventure. Alternatively drones could guide you, providing you with the right routes. There are even examples of drones guiding blind athletes. Pretty astonishing isn’t it?

The conclusion should be that drones are here to stay and will certainly make a huge impact on the world of sports. They will both improve performance levels as well as having an impact on th eexperience of viewers (whether being fans or athletes). If you have any opinions or have anything to add, please share!

Published by Jan Kees Mons

I am Jan Kees Mons. Just call me JK, that’s easier I guess. I am a Dutchman living in the heart of the city of Amsterdam. Right now I am living on my own. However, not for much longer, as I plan to live together with my lovely girlfriend.

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