Editor's Picks

AsiaMonday, September 12

Drone-Racing Prodigy in Indonesia

A 12-year-old Indonesian boy has become a drone-racing sensation.

In the short time they've been around, drones have become indispensable to a variety of businesses, from agriculture to construction. They're also spawning a new amateur sport.

The goal of a drone race is simple -- to fly your machine around a course as quickly as possible. Their speed can exceed 100 kilometers per hour.

The racers use special goggles and receive a live video feed from the drone. The operators use that to guide their machines through the course.

"It makes me feel like I am in a drone," says one drone operator.

Axel Mario has already built up quite a name for himself in the Indonesian drone world. He's only been at it for a year, but already he's the top drone racer in the country.

He has not only won domestic races but also an international competition in Singapore. For his efforts, he's taken home about 4 thousand dollars in prize money so far.

Axel engages in regular training sessions near his home. He practices by maneuvering his drone through the trees, training every weekend to hone his techniques. His goal is to win one of the top places for a world competition in Hawaii in October.

"I think I am the fastest in practice races. But in actual races, I meet competitors who are fast, and I lose confidence. I will do my best to win the qualifier," he says.

The Indonesian qualifier for the world event attracted some of the country's best drone pilots. The top five finishers would qualify.

From the start, Axel's strategy was to stay behind his rivals and look for an opportunity. His drone cleared the first gate but then unexpectedly his race was over. His machine hit another drone and he was out of the competition.

"I couldn't avoid the drone in front of me. I'm disappointed," he says.

Axel may have failed to qualify for the world event but that hasn't dampened his enthusiasm for drone racing.

"I think I can win another race," he says.

Axel keeps flying his machine, and keeps dreaming of qualifying for, and finally winning a major international competition.