British Teen Vrooms His Way To Victory At World Drone Prix 2016

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Can you recall what you were up to when you were a 15-year-old? Well, British teenager Luke Bannister may have no difficulty in doing so, since he and his fellow members of the Tornado X-Blades Banni UK team spent a weekend in March winning the first place and US$250,000 award in the inaugural edition of the World Drone Prix held in Dubai. Bannister’s team beat out 150 other teams to clinch the title, including local favorites Dubai Dronetek, who came in second. According to The Associated Press, the competition saw drones whizzing along the brightly lit race circuit at Skydive Dubai, with each of the machines manned by four pilots at a time, all wearing virtual reality goggles that allowed them to watch the sights from their drone’s perspective.

@Worlddroneprix Twitter

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai with 2015 Drones for Good Award winning team Flyability in Dubai, UAE. Image credit: UAE Drones for Good.

Despite the complexities involved in the challenge, the 15-year-old champion of the first ever World Drone Prix was a picture of modesty after the victory, with Bannister saying that controlling the drones was "like flying a jet fast." But Saif Mohammed al-Suwaidi, Director-General, UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority, highlighted the intricacies of the competition, saying, “It is not merely a flying game, but a sport that requires mental focus and accuracy to enable users to harmonize mental commands and hand movements to fly their drone.” Organized by the World Organization of Racing Drones (WORD), the World Drone Prix is a part of the UAE’s commitment towards drone technology. The UAE government has already established the Drones for Good Award in 2014, which aims to encourage and reward use of futuristic drone technology for practical solutions that can improve quality of life.

Related: CES 2016 Highlights: Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Ehang 184

Sindhu Hariharan

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Sindhu Hariharan is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.  She is a financial consultant turned business journalist with a FOMO when it comes to everything technology.