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Teenager From U.K. Wins World Drone Racing Competition In Dubai

Ladies and gentlemen, start your tiny, tiny engines.

A roller-coaster-esque race course in Dubai hosted the World Drone Prix on Friday and Saturday — a contest for drone racers and manufacturers, with a $250,000 prize for the winning team.

The total prize money, including awards for runner-ups, freestyle flights and fastest lap, is a million dollars — significantly higher than the prize pot for similar upcoming races in New York and Hawaii.

The World Drone Prix, held for the first time this year, tests a drone's speed and a pilot's agility, with built-in obstacles and tight turns. Drone teams also have navigation choices to make — when and how to handle shortcuts and a "joker lane."

And just like racecars, the custom-built drones have to make pit stops — plopping down on cushions when it's time for a battery swap.

The track, which can shift and rearrange itself, features lighted lines beneath the drone paths and glowing loops marking the narrow targets the drones have to pass through. Both the track and the competing drones record live footage from various perspectives.

"Tornado X-Blades Banni UK" — the team shown in the video at top — took home the prize.

"Banni UK" is Luke Bannister, a teenager from Britain and the pilot for that team. You can learn more about the young pilot in a piece from The Independent last year.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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