Catch ESPN at the right time and you may see a pack of tiny, brightly colored airborne devices zooming through a complicated neon-lit obstacle course. Professional drone racing is attempting to break out as a sport, complete with leagues, sponsors, stars, and lucrative contracts.
The pilots wear virtual reality headsets to see through cameras mounted on their drones, which move at surprisingly high speeds. The Drone Racing League, whose events draw the aforementioned ESPN coverage, clock their vehicles at a thrilling maximum of 85 miles per hour.
The matches feel partly like a race, but also partly like a video game. The Drone Racing League even refers to the different courses as "levels," a term more familiar to gamers than athletes. But the average speed demon on a PlayStation isn't competing for a chunk of a six-figure victory pot.