Biosphere 2 to Host Expo and High-Speed Drone Race


(Photo courtesy of Drone Racing League)

The University of Arizona's Biosphere 2 has partnered with the Drone Racing League to host a high-speed drone race at the iconic venue on Saturday night.

Leading up to the race, the facility will host a special event from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. focusing on technologies of the future. Attendees will have the opportunity to take tours of Biosphere 2, get a hands-on experience with drones, explore the science of autonomous vehicles, watch robotics demonstrations, and learn about how drones support the earth science community and everyday life.

Representatives from the UA College of Engineering, UA Avirtek & Autonomic Computer Center, Barrow Neurological Institute, the Department of Public Safety and Project WET will be present at the event to showcase how and why they use innovative technologies.

The full-day event also will offer a continuing-education course for more than 20 K-12 teachers, centered around drones, robotics and artificial intelligence. Teachers will be allowed to tour the course and learn firsthand flying skills from DRL pilots.

"Biosphere 2 provides a unique backdrop for this event," said Joaquin Ruiz, director of Biosphere 2 and UA vice president for innovation. "It's an ideal setting for evoking curiosity about a future where technologies that combine the physical and digital worlds are expanding in innovative and provocative ways."

During the race, 12 elite DRL pilots will fly custom-built racing drones in excess of 90 mph through Biosphere 2 as they battle for the chance to compete in the season finale in Saudi Arabia. The course will be lit with thousands of brightly colored lights to enhance the structure in an unprecedented way. The race is the third of a seven-race season and will air internationally in the fall on various sports broadcast networks, including ESPN.

"As we scout the globe for the most iconic and visually stunning locations to host our complex, three-dimensional racing events, we knew we had to bring a 2018 season race to the world's largest earth science facility," said Nicholas Horbaczewski, DRL founder and CEO. "Integrating the planet's most breathtaking landscapes, including an ocean, a rainforest and the desert, within an architecturally spectacular enclosed ecosystem, Biosphere 2 looks like nothing we've ever done before.

"Plus, as a tech company at our core, we value STEM education and supporting programs that inspire new understandings about drones," Horbaczewski said of the full-day event.

"This is an exciting opportunity to bring together the futuristic worlds of drone racing and Biosphere 2 to engage the next generation," said John Adams, deputy director at Biosphere 2. "Biosphere 2 has been inspiring people for nearly three decades to think broadly about our world and our place in it. This event helps the University of Arizona connect the world of Biosphere 2 with the emerging future."


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