CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide

Portrait of a drone pilot

What a drone pilot sees

Race course

Race cage

The starting line

It's going for speed

The start of a drone race

They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank

No tickets were issued

DIY drones

Propellor repair

Let there be light

Netting a couple of drones

Big money, red jacket

Yep, it's fun

A drone pilot's equipment is pretty simple: a headset shows a first person point-of-view video stream from their drone. The pilot uses the video stream to steer and maneuver the drone through turns and gates on the race course.

We attended the California Drone Speed Challenge at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco to get some insight on what it means to be a drone pilot. 

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

This is what a pilot sees during a race.

Caption by / Photo by Patrick Holland/CNET

Here's part of the race course. Rope lights indicate the path. In the middle is a rectangular cage where the drone pilots sit while they compete against each other.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Two pilots compete head-to-head during a qualifying heat.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

A pilot places his drone on the starting block.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

A drone on its starting block ready to launch.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The two small upright black rectangles on the bottom of the photo are the starting blocks. The blurry colorful streaks are the drones taking off at the start of a race.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Two drones take off and race through the course.

Caption by / Photo by Patrick Holland/CNET

The only citations issued were accolades for how fast the drones were flying. The officer clocked one drone flying 103 miles-per-hour.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Racer Tony Thompson readies his drone for a qualifying heat. There are few actual restrictions about the drones. For this race, propellors had to be less than 6-inches in diameter and batteries had to be under a certain power rating.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Racing drones can take quite a beating (which can be fun to watch as a spectator). But this also means pilots need to be able to quickly repair their drones between heats.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

All racing drones have an LED lights which makes them easier to follow as they speed through the course.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Two drones hang on the safety netting that surround the pilots' pit area. You do not want to get hit by a drone going 103 miles-per-hour.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Pilots in the Xfinity California Drone Speed Challenge compete for part of a $10,000 prize. But they all get these sweet red jackets.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Did we mention that racing drones is fun? It is. For more about drone racing check out our article on how it's becoming a big sport.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
Published:
Up Next
Fly to a galaxy far, fay away with...
15