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That great human impulse to see who can outlast the other in the ring of combat has led to Game of Drones, a drone sales and fighting league that's taking aim at the NFL and others. So how does one-on-one drone combat work, and when will we be seeing it on ESPN?
All Drones Must Fly
Game of Drones founder Marque Cornblatt said the league rose out of frustration with the fragility of early drones, which were designed only to fly, not crash into the ground or each other. Once users were able to upgrade the flimsier drones with heavy-duty materials, the real battles could begin.
What started as a friendly, beers-in-the-barn competition has spawned full-scale, Vegas-hosted tournaments. Now bouts are regulated and contestants compete on a points system: start with three points, and lose one every time your drone hits the ground. If your drone falls and can't get up, you have 90 seconds to get it airborne, or you lose.
And because the competitions are enclosed and the drones aren't used for commercial purposes, the drone wars avoid pesky FAA regulations.
Winging Is Coming
The innovations necessary to succeed in Game of Drones haven't gone unnoticed by other drone users: both law enforcement and the military have contacted Cornblatt about building stronger and more durable drones for uses outside the arena.
With consumer interest in drones growing (the Consumer Electronics Association projects the drone market to grow to $1 billion by 2018) and e-sports (already a $600 million market) on the rise as well, Game of Drones is setting its sights on the sports league market. As Cornblatt told CNBC, "We see Game of Drones becoming the drones sports company worldwide with name recognition on par with X Games or NASCAR."
No word yet on whether betting on your favorite drone in copter-to-copter combat will be a feature of the burgeoning battle league.