Not so long ago we brought you the story of Arsenal Football Club's coaching team who were using DJI Phantoms to improve their players' performances. Since then we've heard of other top UK teams using drones for similar work and it got us thinking about all the sports that might be using drone technology.
In the USA drones have been used for a while to monitor American Football training sessions. The top shots you get are ideal for plotting players' movements for the the training debrief afterwards. It's not just the pro teams who are using the technology. University teams are investing in aerial tech too.
One head coach, Dave Bailiff of Rice University in Houston told ABC 13 News “It can give you a whole new perspective how a quarterback is seeing the game, how it's unfolding in front of him, at all positions because it’s a new angle.”
Miami Hurricanes American football team using a drone for training.
Recently the NFL was given permission by the FAA to use drones to film its stadiums but unfortunately for their production unit, NFL films, who want to get epic shots, they are only allowed to film empty stadiums for the time being.
In Australia they've been using drones to cover cricket matches since the end of 2012. The Fox Channel launched a UAS programme but were beaten into the air by rival Channel 9. Although they weren't allowed to fly over the pitch in Perth, it's reported that they got some great shots as well as some nice views of the Swan River into the bargain.
A camera drone at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Cool shots at the Winter Olympics
You may also have seen some pretty cool shots at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Drones were used to fly down the snowboarding course to get some great tracking shots. It's a job that has previously been performed by wire cams.
Heliguy advised broadcasting clients at the Winter Games about the use of drones. For broadcasters the savings can be massive. Not only can a drone get unique angles but it can also get higher than a crane and lower than a helicopter. A drone with mounted camera can cost tens of thousands of pounds for a top of the range drone, gimbal and camera. That compares with the cost of a few thousand pounds an hour to hire a helicopter with pilot. That doesn't include the cost of the camera crew and equipment.
One of our regular customers has been involved in covering horse racing in the UK. Clive Matthews flies drones for RaceTech which, as the name suggests, offers technical and broadcast services to the horse racing. Not only can he offer fly throughs and panoramic views of the courses, he can also transmit live feeds during races.
With horses and crowds of people involved, Clive's safety regime obviously has to be very strict although interestingly he says the horses aren't too bothered by the octocopter. Live aerial shots for race broadcasters are a great bonus and drones are far more flexible than fixed camera cranes or gantries.
RaceTech say: "The RaceTech Drone is all about bringing the very latest technologies in outside broadcast for the benefit of sport – new and exciting camera angles, fresh takes on familiar sporting venues, a unique on the action and a completely different perspective for new and target audiences.
"Our goal is to show viewers what is possible, and constantly push the boundaries of utilising technology for entertainment, enjoyment and reinforcing the integrity of sport – drones, jockey cams, starts cameras – new developments that add colour and depth to both viewer experience and broadcasting output."
Of course drones are also playing a big part the portrayal of sports that don't rely on racetracks or stadiums. Surfing and mountain biking, for example, have always been big fans of action-cam technology and, as soon as they started to get airborne on drones, sports fans realised the exciting new dimension that aerial shots could offer.
Even for solitary sports enthusiasts there's now the potential to shoot yourself from the air. New Follow Me features on consumer drones like the Phantom 3 mean that your camera can fly with you as you ski or cycle.
Drones switch from spectator to competitor
Now drones are becoming so popular that they've even generated a sport of their own - FPV drone racing. Flying super fact racing drones using first person view goggles to blast tour way around a tight course.
Hang on tight when you check out this race in an abandoned warehouse in Melbourne, Australia. Around thirty drone racers, who'd spent hours customising their multi-rotors, whizzed around the circuit and almost defy the laws of physics.
So we're enjoying exciting times with drones and sport. We'd we interested to hear if you've found a novel way to use your drone for sport, whether it's for coaching, training or filming events. Don't forget there are important rules about where you can fly. Check out our previous blog if you want to know more.
You need a drone license when you are flying as a commercial drone pilot, ie when you are using your drone for work and money-making purposes. This means, in most cases, you will need to sit the FAA Part 107 test.
You do not need a drone license when you are flying as a hobby and for purely recreational purposes. However, you will need to operate by strict rules. There are plans to introduce the requirement for hobbyists to pass an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test.