If you’ve never heard of drone football, here’s a short primer. It is an indoor sport played by two teams of no more than five players each. The team that scores the most goals wins. But here’s the twist: They don’t use soccer balls, no. Instead, they use drones enclosed in protective plastic spheres (hence the name).
Drones were first used in the military in the mid-1990s. Since then, they have gained popularity in various industries. From search and rescue, surveillance and firefighting to aerial photography capture and even food delivery, drones are now accessible to everyone and can be used in a variety of applications. So why not use them to reinvent the good old traditional football.
Two years ago, this futuristic looking sport was included in the Sporting Code of the World Air Sports Federation as a provisional class. From there, things immediately took off and in November 2019, the first international tournament was held in Korea.
It took a little while, but on May 1, the WHS Aerospace Engineering program participated in its first American football tournament by drone. The event took place at the Wings Over the Rockies Blue Sky Aviation Gallery hangar in Englewood.
Four schools participated in the tournament. There were three teams of three players each, and they had to complete three rounds to win. For the game, 10 drones were flown by pilots standing near the “flight zone”, an enclosure measuring 20m long and 10m wide. The drones were also enclosed in spheres featuring the specific colors of each team so that players could easily recognize which one belonged to which group.
Only one participant, known as the attacker, could score by flying his drone through a circular goal post about 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground. The remaining players had to help their attacker by defending the goal or preventing the other team’s attacker from scoring.
The game really looked like a lot of fun, and it sort of looked like the fictional Quidditch sport from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, minus the sci-fi flying brooms and physical human interaction.