REDMOND, WASH. - The drones might be racing in, out and around obstacles at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. But their pilots are safely seated, wearing something like virtual reality headsets, which receive grainy cockpit-like views from tiny cameras mounted on the quadcopters.
"I kinda relate it to pod racing in Star Wars," said Mark Kenworthy of FPV Racing Seattle. "You're on this thing going super fast. You're low to the ground, so the sensation of speed is awesome."
Drone racing, which started out as a grassroots hobby just a few years ago, has exploded in popularity.
The U.S.-based Drone Racing League -- already valued at millions of dollars -- has TV contracts around the world. Pros race pros for prizes of up to $250,000. They race through stadiums, abandoned malls and factories.
“You gotta be precise, and your reflexes have to be really fast,” said pilot Kody Knudtson.
Knudtson grew up flying model planes. Now he's competing with pilots who grew up playing video games.
“The adrenaline -- that's what I crave,” Knudtson said.
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