Pro football is yet another industry that is going to be disrupted by drones. The viewers can watch the Salina Liberty Pro football team, headquartered in Salina, Kansas, trying their skills out with the drones soaring above them. The drones are being used for a variety of purposes such as making the 35 feet ball drop to the head referee before the commencement of the game, as well as recording the video footage of the match to broadcast a real time video streaming on the team’s Facebook page.
The drones are maneuvered by the students studying at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus’s Applied Aviation Research Center.
Salina Liberty’s CEO and co-owner Ricky Bertz said that the team believed drones a versatile way to instill more interest in the fans and to bolster their experience of the game so the club was really jubilant that the Kansas State University Polytechnic accepted the notion.
The need of using a drone to drop off the ball to the referee for the game to kick off was inspired by one of the challenges in the NFL Pro Bowl Skills Showdown referred to as drone drop.
Indoor drone flights are hampered by the weak GPS signals but the good news of indoor flights is that the FAA rules and regulations are not valid in this scenario. At present, the FAA rules dictate that the drone flights over a large crowd of people are prohibited outdoors. The matches are conducted indoors so the drones can be flown indoors regardless of the FAA rules meant for the country’s airspace.
Despite the drone operating team being cognizant of the fact that the FAA rules are being bypassed by virtue of indoor drone flights, they ensure optimum safety for the sake of the gathered assembly. The drone operators ensure that the drone is avoided from being flown above the crowd and only flown above the players who are clad in protective gear. Other safety precautions include the fact that the teams, referee and the coaches are aware of the drone’s activities.
Travis Balthazor, Flights Operations Manager of the Kansas State Polytechnic’s Applied Aviation Centre believes that multiple flights near crowds coupled with a null error ratio proves a point to the FAA that such flights can also be conducted outdoors in a safe manner.
Drones are not new to football on the whole although they have been used for the first time for the purpose of ball drop. The Super Bowl Half Time Show in 2017 is a memorable event in which hordes of vibrantly illuminated drones sparkled the background behind Lady Gaga.