Professional drone racing could become an Olympic sport: DRL CEO

Professional drone racing, where fully manual racing drones are expertly piloted around complex three-dimensional racecourses, could one day become an Olympic sport, according to the CEO of the world’s leading professional drone racing league.

“There’s been a lot of conversations about [drone racing becoming an Olympic sport], and they’ve looked pretty seriously at it for the games coming up in Korea,” said Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO of the Drone Racing League (DRL), told Factor.

“I don’t think you will see it in the immediate term, but I definitely think there’s discussions around it, there’s excitement about it, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see drone racing appear in the Olympics in the future.”

The largest professional drone league in the world, the Drone Racing League completed its second season this week with a final held at Alexandra Palace in London, the UK. The season will begin airing in over 75 countries next week, including the UK on Sky Sports Mix on the 21st June and the US on ESPN on the 20th June.

Using custom racing drones that require fully manual control, the Drone Racing League has turned the formerly underground sport of drone racing into a rigorous and highly professional affair, suitable for events such as the Olympics.

“We had to develop our own racing drone from the ground up that was sort of the ultimate high-performance machine for drones,” explained Horbaczewski.

“Racing drones are very different from the kind of camera drones you’d go out and buy on the high street; these are very specialised craft.

“I would say camera drones that people buy are sort of like lorries: they’re a functional craft with a very specific purpose. These racing drones are like Formula One cars: they’re built for speed, performance and sport.”

An excited crowd watch the Drone Racing League 2017 season final, which was held this week at Alexandra Palace in London, the UK, and will air next month following a season start next week. Images courtesy of the Drone Racing League

The DRL’s professional drone racers are also a rare breed, coming from a mixture of the remote control community, motorcycle and car racing and the professional videogame community. And while the basics of consumer drone piloting can be picked up fairly easily, racing drones are considerably tougher.

“It is extremely hard to race drones,” said Horbaczewski. “These are fully manual drones, so there’s no stabilisation, there’s no computer-assistance in flying.  They’re truly controlling power to the four different motors and controlling all the dimensions of flight that way.

“Learning to fly a racing drone is challenging; to reach the professional levels you really have to be very exceptional at flying drones.”

Steve “Woz” Wozniak to advise hologram emoji company that he calls “groundbreaking”

Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”

Nanoengineers send antibiotic-delivering micromotors into the body to treat cancer-causing infection

Nanoengineers have demonstrated for the first time how “micromotors” that measure half the width of a human hair can be used to transport antibiotics through the body.

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego tested the micromotors in mice with Helicobacter pylori infections, which can also be found in about two-thirds of the world’s population and while many people will never notice any signs of its presence it can cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.

The mice received the micromotors – packed with a clinical dose of the antibiotic clarithromycin – orally once a day for five consecutive days.

Afterwards, nanoengineers evaluated the bacterial count in each mouse stomach and found that treatment with the micromotors was slightly more effective than when the same dose of antibiotic was given in combination with proton pump inhibitors, which also suppress gastric acid production.

Micromotors administered to the mice swam rapidly throughout the stomach while neutralising gastric acid, which can be destructive to orally administered drugs such as antibiotics and protein-based pharmaceuticals.

Because gastric acid is so destructive to traditional antibiotics drugs used to treat bacterial infections, ulcers and other diseases in the stomach are normally taken with additional substances, called proton pump inhibitors.

But when taken over longer periods or in high doses, proton pump inhibitors can cause adverse side effects including headaches, diarrhea and fatigue. In more serious cases, they can cause anxiety or depression.

The micromotors, however, have a built-in mechanism that neutralises gastric acid and effectively deliver their drug payloads in the stomach without requiring the use of proton pump inhibitors.

“It’s a one-step treatment with these micromotors, combining acid neutralisation with therapeutic action,” said Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, a postdoctoral scholar in Wang’s research group at UC San Diego and a co-first author of the paper.

The nanoengineers say that while the present results are promising, this work is still at an early stage.

To test their work, the team is planning future studies to into the therapeutic performance of the micromotors in animals and humans, and will compare it with other standard therapies used to combat stomach diseases.

UC San Diego nanoengineers also plan to test different drug combinations with the micromotors to treat multiple diseases in the stomach or in different sections of the gastrointestinal tract.

Overall, the researchers say that this work opens the door to the use of synthetic motors as active delivery platforms in the treatment of diseases.

Image and video courtesy of the Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics at UC San Diego.