BMX bikers send in the drone

Olympic BMX team use military-grade tech to improve medal chances in Rio

Drones: If they are not pretending to be Thermos Flasks or trying to solve congestion in London, they can apparently help Team GB’s chances of getting that elusive gold medal in the BMX races.

The British Olympic BMX team has turned to drone technology to help speed up biker’s turns around the circuit. They've hooked up with BAE Systems, better known for making military equipment, to put LED lights on bikes and then use optical sensors at track side to monitor them as they whizz around.

The sensor tech was originally developed for the 'sense and avoidance' system used in drones, and work whether the bike is on the ground or flying through the air, as BMX bikes often do, even when not piloted by ET.

Info from the sensors is then relayed to a bespoke app, giving riders and coaches a real-time read-out of performance and enabling them to identify where they can make those critical marginal gains. BMX squad member Liam Phillips says that in a sport where riders are travelling at around 40kph and spending more than 40 per cent of the race off the deck, “every millisecond counts, and one imperfection for your form can put you at a disadvantage."

"Medals will be hard won in Rio next year, but access to BAE Systems' expertise, where their forward thinking engineers are applying cutting edge technology to improve our athletes' training and performance, will prove invaluable," said Simon Timson, Director of Performance at UK Sport.

"The UK's athletes and their coaches are working hard to make the nation proud in Rio, as they did in London, and it's fantastic to have the best of British engineering, thanks to BAE Systems, backing them all the way."