It’s pretty clear that Skydive Dubai’s World Drone Prix, which kicks off next week and puts drone racing’s first million dollar prize up for grab, is intended to be a major event. The Crown Prince of Dubai even inaugurated a month of media hype about the race with an insane video of a drone racing a McLaren through the streets of Dubai.

The Crown Prince’s video does more than just blow your mind though, it provides the first ever look at what professional drone racing could look like if properly financed. Sure, there are plenty of fairly attractive drone courses built by entrepreneurs affiliated with the Drone Racing League or similar organizations, but we’re talking about a different scale here.

The Drone vs. McLaren video isn’t interesting because it documents a breakthrough. It’s interesting because it’s incredibly flashy and will appeal to a broad range of people. There is not only video from the McLaren dash cam and the drone itself, but a series of stationary cameras along the way capture the two vehicles racing neck and neck through the winding course. A few shots appear to come from either a different drone or a helicopter that is following the race at high rate of speed.

Undoubtedly, the future of drone racing will see videos streamed directly into 3D headsets to bring the action even closer. That is, after all, how pilots watch and control drones. But, for now, this does nicely.

The upcoming World Drone Prix will offer most viewers the first chance to view drone racing in its most extreme form. These drones don’t come from a hobby shop. They’re engineered to fly perfectly even miles away from the receiver. They have even broken speeds of 100mph. The biggest obstacle to serious drone racing may be battery life, which typically maxes out at around 30 minutes, probably less at racing speeds, though that might be plenty of time for a single race.

A drone pilot races to qualify for the World Drone Prix in Dubai. 

In the end only four drone racing teams will advance to the first ever World Drone Prix. The best and the brightest in this early sport are coming from around the world to put their best hardware to their test. And despite everything about the competition screaming the high-tech future of sport itself, we can’t wait to see what the racers themselves bring to the event.

The course includes joker lanes, which are harder than the normal track and must be taken once per race, and shortcut lanes, which can only be taken once per race. 
Photos via Josh Weissman; World Drone Prix, World Drone Prix