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Meet the 16-year-old world drone-racing champion


Drone racers hope their sport could go mainstream. Hit play on the video above to get an inside look at how first-person view (FPV) drone racing works, and what its star pilots hope the future has in store.

“I really think the sport’s just going to keep growing and growing and growing,” says drone racing world champion Luke Bannister, who back in March nabbed first prize in a global drone racing contest in Dubai.

Drone racing gets serious

“Considering how far it’s gone in about a year, from people flying around their local park or whatever, to flying inside stadiums. I think it’s just going to keep growing, and hopefully it becomes a professional sport.”

Drone racing is best described as a cross between Formula 1 and Star Wars’ fictional sport of podracing. Quick reactions are a must as pilots zip their machines around a defined course, all the time wearing headsets that deliver a live feed from the nose of their drone. There are even pit stops to change batteries.

One obstacle that could stand in the way of drone racing’s mainstream appeal is that, on a practical level, it’s not that easy to follow. It can be hard to tell which tiny drone is in the lead when they’re on the other side of the course, illuminated only by a few coloured LEDs. Tech could alleviate this — for instance racing drones have cameras strapped to them, so spectators could follow a stream of what the drones are seeing on a smartphone or tablet.

Hit play on the video above to see drone racing in action.

These are the drones landing in spring 2016

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