Watching first-person footage of racing drones makes it seem like the tiny craft fly somewhere close to the speed of light. In reality, due to the limits of their human pilots, they top at around 129km per hour. That's incredibly fast, but the Drone Racing League managed to double that with a new world record speed of 264km per hour.
To ensure its races are decided by the skills of the pilots, and not the amount of funding and pricey hardware each team can secure, the competitors in the Drone Racing League all fly the same quadcopter, designed by the league's own team of engineers.
Pushing the technology that goes into the DRL's Racer3 to its limits, those same engineers recently designed and built a high-performance racing craft called the DRL RacerX. Weighing just 800g, the RacerX is powered by a pair of 1300 mAh batteries and four electric motors that can each hit speeds of up to 46,000 RPMs.
That's an incredible amount of performance to squeeze out of a tiny electric motor. According to an email the team sent us, one of the prototypes burst into flames after hitting its highest point of acceleration.
Drone racing is exciting in its own right, but for spectators the sport still can't quite match the horsepower and top speeds of auto racing — or can it? Nissan's GT-R drone, designed and built by Tornado XBlades Racing, can hit a top speed of 185km per hour. It can accelerate from zero to 96km in under 1.3 seconds.
The drone's top speed is actually 290km per hour, but in order to be officially recognised by the Guinness World Records for the fastest ground speed achieved by a battery-powered remote-controlled quadcopter, the DRL Racer X had to fly back and forth across a 100m long course, with the top speeds of both runs averaged together. The official result of that completed run was 264km per hour.
That not only bests the previous official world record of 201km per hour, but also unofficial, one-way top speed records posted to YouTube, including this one of a drone supposedly hitting 233km per hour. That means the RacerX is even faster than Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros, and it can easily destroy your four-door family sedan in a drag race.
So will the DRL RacerX be making appearances in official races? Only if the Drone Racing League decides to replace all the pilots with Jedis who have previously proven they have the reflexes needed for intergalactic pod-racing.