Like this site? Help us to make it better.


British Cycling using drone technology to try to give BMX riders Olympic edge (+ video)

National team partners with defence contractor BAE Sytems in groundbreaking initiative

We’ve seen them used to help target missiles, deliver parcels and take some great overhead video footage – but now, Great Britain’s BMX cyclists are using drones to try to get among the medals at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Defence contractor BAE Systems has been brought on board by British Cycling to try to give Team GB’s riders an edge in Brazil next year reports the BBC.

Here’s how it works. Bikes have infra-red lamps attached to them, with sensors placed on the side of the track. Then, via an app, data is sent to help backroom staff find ways that the riders can become more efficient.

Marginal gains and all.

The initiative is part of a four-year research and innovation programme that BAE Systems is undertaking with UK Sport.

It uses technology originally used for “sense and avoidance” military applications to help riders and their coaches assess performance and see where improvements can be made.

Liam Phillips, men’s BMX World Champion in 2013, said: "In an elite sport such as BMX, where riders are travelling around 40kph and spending more than 40 per cent of the race in the air, every millisecond counts and one imperfection for your form can put you at a disadvantage.

“This new technology from BAE Systems will revolutionise the way we train, allowing us to analyse our techniques with a new-found precision and helping us shave off those valuable fractions of a second."

Kelvin Davies, who leads the technology partnership team at BAE Systems, added: “We are excited to see how this cutting-edge sensory hardware is able to influence the race strategy of the Great Britain Cycling Team’s BMX squad.

"Technology and innovation is at the heart of BAE Systems and we are proud of the contribution we make to help our athletes in their pursuit of marginal gains.”

BMX became an Olympic sport seven years ago in Beijing, and Phillips, in the men’s event, and Shanaze Reade, in the women’s, were medal hopefuls for Team GB but both missed out both there and in London three years ago.

Simon Timson, director of performance at UK Sport, said: “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.

“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.”

Here’s a video about the collaboration.

Earlier this week, British Cycling announced the team that will take part in the UCI BMX World Championships at Zolder in Belgium in July.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Latest Comments