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When you’re a rag-tag group of drone-equipped thrill seekers, you need a hangout that reflects your hardcore attitude, lets your drone flag fly and can host your sport. But recently, the long arm of the law has been infringing on just where, when and how drone owners can get their drone on, thanks to regulations and guidelines about where flying drones is and isn’t acceptable. The Drone Racing League (DRL) decided to take matters into their own hands, repurposing the abandoned Hawthorne Plaza Mall in Los Angeles into an expansive and epic drone-racing course.

Dubbed the “L.A.Pocalypse” course, skilled drone pilots gathered to form racing groups, toggling their controls as they zigged and zagged their drones through a winding course that includes inoperable escalators and hollow chambers that have been tagged over the years with graffiti art and marks. Ravaged and decimated recreations of famous LA landmarks, such as a 5 Freeway sign and the Hollywood sign, adorn the racetrack with apocalyptic flair. As racers pilot their drones through the course, the ones that can obtain the fastest speeds while maintaining graceful maneuvering will advance to future racing events.

With both speed and agility serving as goalposts, the Drone Racing League creates and enhances their drones to be small, agile and fast enough to reach almost 80 miles per hour. Made with rectangular carbon-fiber boxes outfitted with circuit boards containing DRL patented technology (these droneheads are serious), DRL racing drones aren’t only advanced, but they’re super tricked out – many racers flourish their drones with designs, high-def cameras and LED lights to make personalized statements. This is all in attempts to become the Formula 1 of UAV racing, something that is easier said than done with the immediate emergence and skyrocketing popularity of the drone racing sport in a short amount of time.

But with any high-speed race, there’s an expectation – nay, almost a demand – for spectacular crashes. This is certainly the case for drone racing, as each pilot has a relative fleet of drones at their disposal to navigate their way through the racecourse. Most of the drones are equipped with cameras to broadcast live feeds of the races for the pilots, both for navigational and entertainment purposes. First Person View goggles let pilots be the eyes of their drone as they rapidly race and meander through the treacherous course. You can definitely expect to see some official DRL racing videos popping up soon once the group wraps this round of competition.

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