Just how good are the Pro Bowl receivers? A new drone competition aims to find out

1309315 autosave v1 football1
Sure, the best NFL receivers can snatch a ball out of the air and make it look easy, but can they catch one dropped from 200 feet — by a drone? That’s exactly what the newest event at the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown is aiming to find out.

Airing tonight, January 26, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, and live-streaming to the ESPN website, ten players from the AFC will compete against the best of the NFC in a set of five different challenges, from dodgeball to the new wide receiver drone drop. The Skills Showdown is returning after a ten-year hiatus as a sort of precursor for Saturday’s AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in Orlando.

Of course, with the last Showdown held in 2006, there’s bound to be some new additions — so why not throw the popular drone into the mix? The quadcopters will be flying up to about 200 feet in the air and dropping footballs down to the wide receivers playing in the Pro Bowl.

Those wide receivers are set to include the Steelers’ Antonio Brown and the Raiders’ Amari Cooper for the AFC, with AJ Green (Bengals) and TY Hilton (Colts) in the reserves. On the NFC side, the list of receivers includes the Julio Jones of the Falcons, and Odell Beckham of the Giants, with Mike Evans (Buccaneers) and Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) in the reserves.

The NFL shared its test of the Drone Drop competition as a sort of preview — the quadcopters grip a ball at the front, releasing while hovering at a steady altitude. Several sports commentators are suggesting that the Showdown, with the drone drop and dodgeball, could be more entertaining to watch then the actual Pro Bowl.

Brian McCarthy, a public relations representative for the NFL, confirmed that the organization had received FAA approval for the event — since it’s actually now illegal for commercial drone operators to fly over people.

The Skills Showdown kicks off on January 26 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN — and will also be live-streamed on WatchESPN.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

A master agent’s guide to skills and perks in The Division 2

As a Division agent, you have access to a variety of specialized skills that can really, really help you in combat. Certain perks are also quite vital to your success. Our skills and perks guide has all the details.
Movies & TV

Avengers: Endgame: Everything we know about the Infinity War sequel

The events of Avengers: Infinity War changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some big ways and left fans wondering how its heroes can possibly recover. Here's everything we know about Avengers: Endgame, the sequel to Infinity War.
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.
Emerging Tech

New Hubble image displays dazzling Messier 28 globular cluster

Messier 28 is a group of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius, located 18,000 light-years from our planet. Thousands of stars are packed tightly together in this sparkling image.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.