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BMX racers use drone tech to improve their game

UK’s Cycling Team’s BMX crew is equipping its bikes with smart sensors that can help them improve their speed, BBC writes in a report (opens in new tab).

The bikes will be equipped with miniature infrared lamps, which are monitored by sensors placed at the track’s sides. The lamps provide data to an app, which analyses it and suggests means of improvement.

The technology, a result of a partnership with defence company BAE Systems, was originally used as part of a "sense and avoidance" system for unmanned commercial aircraft to help them prevent mid-air collisions with other flying objects.

But now, it will be used to help the team better prepare for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

"In an elite sport such as BMX, where riders are travelling around 40kph [25mph] and spending more than 40% of the race in the air, every millisecond counts and one imperfection for your form can put you at a disadvantage," commented BMX squad member Liam Phillips.

"[This] will revolutionise the way we train, allowing us to analyse our techniques with a new-found precision."

The app works in real-time, meaning riders and their team will have insights as soon as they finish a lap.

"They can race round the track, take the jumps and immediately see how their performance has been compared to other runs perhaps on the same day by that [same] rider, or maybe by a different rider on a different day," said Kelvin Davies from BAE Systems.

It’s exactly this kind of technology that could give the UK's BMX squad an edge that its rivals lacked, said Richard Moore, a former racing cyclist.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.