The NFL’s Pro Bowl game kicks off on Sunday night ahead of next week’s Super Bowl, and part of the pre-game festivities included a fun series of “skills showdowns.” For some reason, this meant pitting some of the game’s best wide receivers and defensive backs against football-dropping drones.

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Four players took turns catching footballs dropped by the drones, starting from a height of 70 feet in the air before getting progressively higher for an added “challenge.” The balls fell to the ground at about 44 miles per hour, which ironically meant that as the competition progressed and the drones flew higher and higher, players actually had more time to react to the drop and make the catch.

As a skills challenge, the Drone Drop comes across as a bit of an absurd circus act, and seems more like a stunt designed to work a “hot topic” technology into the Pro Bowl festivities. It’s not entirely necessary, because drones have already become a popular tool for several sports, but whatever gets those advertising dollars!

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You can see highlights of the Drone Drop competition here, which involved at least a couple of impressive one-handed catches, so there was some skill involved. Does this mean that one day quarterbacks might be replaced by quadcopters buzzing around a stadium? It’s doubtful. They’d certainly come with cheaper contracts, but who wants to see a drone looking into the camera after a Super Bowl win, telling the world it’s going to Disney World?

[YouTube via Robotics Trends]