Amsterdam Drone Week has been full of innovative ideas and discussions on deep topics from European regulations to smart cities and urban air mobility.  Alongside the serious conversations, however, another innovation was demonstrated in the RAI’s Drone Arena: drone soccer.

If you’ve never heard of drone soccer, you’re not alone. Patrick Coumans of The Drone Racing Federation, the organizer of the event, says that drone soccer was introduced to the Netherlands just this week – but so far, it’s been a big hit.

Here’s how it works.  Two teams of drone operators face off at either end of a drone cage, representing the soccer field.  The goals are two rings suspended by ropes – which means that they swing out of the way if struck on the sides.  The soccer balls are drones suspended in a round cage, which protects the drone when it lands (or falls) to the ground.  Different colored lights identify each team’s ball.  Operators must fly their drones through the goal at the opposite end of the cage – cooperating when they can, and adjusting their technique against the other team to get the most goals in a set time.

Unlike drone racing, drone soccer is flown by visual line of sight rather than first person view.  Also unlike drone racing – which is a lot of fun to watch through projected FPV video but not so much from the outside – drone soccer is a great spectator sport.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says Coumans. “It’s always fun to work as a team, and it’s always fun to get better at the technique as you go along… and the people watching love it.”

Drone soccer also has tremendous potential as a STEM tool.  “Kids can learn a lot,” says Coumans, “about building things and about piloting, about making adjustments and learning as you go.”

As regulations evolve and commercial applications ramp up, the recreational community continues to innovate also.  Drone soccer is a great example of a family friendly. and fun way to introduce drone technology to a bigger audience.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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