Race Against the Machines: The first drone vs human marathon!

Race Against the Machines 2015

I drove down to Putrajaya over the weekend to witness the first human versus drone 6 km run! This is particularly intriguing to me since the concept resonates with the post-apocalyptic genre of movies and books (which I love). The basis of Race Against the Machines is that flying drones chase all the runners and people can control and view the drones on their smartphones to try and kill hunt the runners.

Putrajaya Flesh vs Steel

The 100PLUS Outrunner 2015 runs also feature traditional 12 km and 9 km runs in addition to the 6 km Race Against the Machines fun run.

100PLUS Outrunner Putrajaya

I could feel the energy of the crowd of people gathering around the square beside Putrajaya Palace of Justice – everyone was excited to begin the run and I was kindly furnished with a t-shirt for the run. I also got the new 100PLUS bottles with the contours and bumps at the end to form a better grip for runners.

100PLUS Putrajaya Run

100PLUS is the organizer behind this event and there was a really cool place where you can get a sticker on your face (or any other part of your body) – the transfer was really vivid!

I watched the 12 km race being flagged off to fireworks…

100PLUS Outrunner 2015

…as well as the 9 km race.

Race Against the Machines

I heard the PA announce that the first finisher for the 12 km run came in less than 45 minutes after the race started. The three races all have staggered starts and my interest was towards the 6 km Flesh vs Steel Race Against the Machines.

I got it on good authority that the flying drones were controlled by a 100PLUS truck that acts as a sort of pacer vehicle in front of the pack of runners. People at home who couldn’t make it could also view the runners from the cameras mounted on the drones. I imagine this is what Predator/Reaper pilots (and Wikileaks aficionados) must feel like.

100PLUS

There were obstacles in addition to the flying drones and I saw families having lot of fun – there are participants from fit marathon types to families pushing a stroller and even a gentleman in a wheelchair. The atmosphere was amazing!

Shelter Zone

The runners in Race Against the Machines can also “hide” at designated Shelter Zones. This is when the cameras from the flying drones go “dark” and the runners are effectively hidden from the people who’re trying to hunt them. This sanctuary is very important as the drones fly at a speed of 57 km/h – much faster than a human can possibly run!

100PLUS Drones

The drones are “armed” with powerful searchlights and high definition video cameras that allow the Drone Masters (people at home) to search and hunt the runners. Drone Masters have 25 shots to fire from the flying machines – that means if they manage to take a clear photo of your barcode, you’re “captured” and 1 Life is deducted.

Flying Drones

The barcodes on the front and back of the participants in Race Against the Machines act as an identifier/target – it keeps track of who got tagged by the lasers and who survived till the end and I thought it’s an amazing idea. Each runner had 3 Lifes (a bonus Life is given for those who’re carrying the 100PLUS New Grip Bottle) and they must cross the finish line with at least 1 Life remaining.

100PLUS New Grip Bottle

100PLUS Outrunner 2015 is a great concept that manages to satisfy hardcore runners with the 12 km and 9 km runs and also the highly innovative 6 km Race Against the Machines. It brings casual runners or people interested in the concept of running from a post-apocalyptic army of drones (think Skynet) to push their limits and live a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise.

100PLUS Outrunner

…and that’s always a good thing! :)

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10 thoughts on “Race Against the Machines: The first drone vs human marathon!”

    • Yeah, it’s very common nowadays! :)

      I’ve seen it sold en masse in Hat Yai when we were there last year. Drone filming has been around a long time, I saw an awesome skateboarding film in 2012 by Spike Jonze called “Pretty Sweet” and the beginning sequence was entirely filmed with a drone. It feels a lot like the CKY and Jackass films without the stupid stunts, just pure awesome boarding and tricks.

      I meant it’s the first time drones have been used in this way to “hunt” runners. It’s really quite interesting!

    • Yeah, it made it a lot of fun! :)

      I’ve been exercising more now – at least an hour everyday, mostly badminton, cycle a bit and jog a little. I’m trying to put in 2 hours nowadays.

    • Indeed! :)

      It made the whole run a lot more interesting since you need to get to the finish line with at least 1 Life or you’ll be “dead”/out. It’s fun for the Drone Masters (members of the public) too coz you can control the drones from your smartphone or computer and snap a photo of someone’s barcode.

  1. Drones? I see the word drones, I think of Ender’s Game, haha.. Eh, very interesting and canggih thingy.. I guess it must be scary meeting the drones, as 1 life would be deducted, like “killing” you.. Errr, could I just hide at the shelter zone until the whole thing ends? Hehe..

    • Haha! Yeah, it’s something like that! :)

      I thought of Terminator, with Skynet having flying drones (Hunter Killers) that would do the same thing too.

      It’s a very interesting concept! Best of all people can CONTROL the drones so you each person has 25 shots and you can see who you want to kena and then snap a photo of their barcode, effectively “killing” them (or taking 1 Life off).

      The runners can hide in Shelter Zones though, where you can’t see them from the flying drones, but they need to come out to finish the race. You can hide in there but you also need to cross the finish line so best thing to do is to wait for the drones to leave or target someone else and then you start running again.

  2. first time i hear such run eh.. must be very exciting and fun.. i wish they have one in kuching so i can go witness….

    12km in 45mins… wow.. that’s like less than 4 mins per km… superb fast !!

    • Yeah, it’s the first time it’s been done! :)

      Flying drones versus humans, it’s fun for both the runners (who have to evade the drones) and the public (who control the drones, limited to 25 shots, and can view and “kill” any person they choose coz of the barcodes on the tshirts).

      I can imagine it’s such a huge endeavour too coz in order to keep track, every person’s barcode has to be different!

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