UK Teenager wins US$250,000 in Dubai Drone Race

A 15-year-old school kid from Somerset has just led his team to victory in the first World Drone Prix in Dubai, and netted a first prize of US$250,000 in the process. The name of the kid who has been piloting drones for just one year is Luke Bannister and his team of 43 people – yes, that does seem like a lot of people – is called the Tornado X-Blades.

Luke Bannister

Drone-racing is a sport that is taking off in a big way and the prize money reflects the global interest in the rather sedentary sport. The race consists of just four drones with the pilots seated during the event in rally-racing-style seats, with the course actually behind them. Each pilot wears a racing-style coverall and views the race via goggles, through which there is a camera feed from his/her drone.

Luke, ready for action, and to the right, how he sees the race.

The race itself consists of twelve laps with one mandatory pit stop for a battery change. The pilots have to decide the best route through the track and short cuts are allowed at the discretion of the pilot. Drone-racing is already being compared to competitive video game playing, and is a ‘sport’, a word we use loosely here, that has worldwide revenues of some US$522 million in 2015, according to research from SuperData.

Nigel Tomlinson, Team Manager of the Tornado X-Blades, does compare drone-racing with video gaming, primarily because of the goggles used. He also said that the prize money would be split between the members of the team and, yes, Luke will be back in school next Monday. And you thought we were just a motoring blog.

Watch the race here:

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