Dangle a $75,000 DRL professional drone racing bait in the middle of 100,000 plus hungry drone racing video gammers, and you've got yourself a real drone racing champion. This is precisely what Jacob Schneider from Indiana, now appropriately known in the professional drone racing community as "Jawz", was able to accomplish. Following a video game competition launched by the Drone Racing League using its very own (and freely available) drone racing video game/simulator, Jawz was amongst the top 24 finishers to advance to the Bud Light 2017 Tryouts in New York City (video of the event available below). After a ferocious final competition, Jawz was able to sink his sharp teeth into the DRL's final prize, and he's hungry for more. In addition to earning himself the $75,000 professional drone racing contract from the DRL, Jaws will make a debut in the DRL's main annual drone racing event.
Interesting about Jawz is that, at least some of his professional drone racing acuity was developed through the highly dynamic and immersive virtual world offered through the DRL's own drone racing simulator. CEO and founder of the DRL Nicholas Horbaczewski describes Jawz as someone who "went from a gamer to a pilot in just a couple of weeks". However, Jawz' MultiGP drone racing profile appears to paints a different picture. It reveals a skilled, avid drone racer that actively took part in real-life local drone races as early as June 2016, up until as recently as May 2017. Jawz himself states that leading up to the Bud Light Tryout competition, he ceased to fly his own drone to focus his time and attention on flying the DRL's drone racing simulator.
According to Nicholas Horbaczewski, racing a DRL racing drone in the real-world is in fact different than flying a racing drone in the DRL's drone racing simulator. For starters, flying a racing drone in the public entertainment spotlight is a unique, high-pressured environment that is much different from the environment offered through a desktop computer inside a basement, of even in a local drone race.
Unlike the circumstances that surrounded Jawz's recruitment to the DRL, other means employed by the DRL to recruit its professional drone racing pilots tend to draw upon real-life drone racing experience. As Horbaczewski explains, in addition to word of mouth inside the professional drone racing community, recruitment occurs anywhere from competitive drone racing events, to Youtube videos posted by amateur drone racing enthusiasts (from which Jawz's own passion for drone racing was said to develop).
Regardless of the method used to ascend to the professional ranks of the DRL, the result appears to be a highly diverse range of professional drone racing pilots. Pilots vary in age, physical abilities, professional backgrounds, and more. DRL recruits are said to range anywhere from motorcycle racers, to car races, to downhill ski racers, to Google engineers, and more.
Will Jawz's apparent record of superior performance in both the virtual and real drone racing world constitute the perfect mixture for a professional drone racing champion? Only time will tell as season 2 of the DRL kicks off today.