When drones and virtual reality come together in an out-of-body experience


Raphael Pirker, the entrepreneur behind Team BlackSheep, asked me if I saw the birds. Tilting my head up at the foggy skies above the hills of Moraga, California, I couldn’t see them — my view didn’t change, no matter which way I turned my head.

I had forgotten that my eyes were not my own — they belonged to a drone named Gemini.

I tilted my head back down, instinctively looking at the controller in my hands, even though I couldn’t see that either. My view, still of the mountains and the foggy sky, stayed the same. My thumb nudged the left joystick forward, and my line of vision went up until I finally saw three black birds circling near me, their outlines a bit fuzzy.

My body was a hundred feet below, standing on a hilltop a half hour east of the San Francisco Bay. The birds…

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