UK Sport's Podium Innovation Partner, BAE Systems, has installed a sophisticated performance monitoring system at the Manchester Velodrome to give British cyclists a further edge in training.
The laser-timing technology, derived from a battle space identification system, represents an entirely new approach to monitoring performance in cycling, improving on previous break-beam systems which are unable to differentiate between individual athletes. The system is the latest development to stem from BAE Systems’ £1.5 million value-in-kind technology partnership with UK Sport aimed at helping British athletes in their quest for medals at World and European Championships as well as future Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Up to 30 cyclists will be able to train simultaneously with the new timing system, which uses a laser able to read a personalised code from a retro reflective tag attached to each bike. Installed at multiple points around the track, the system gives individual recordings for each cyclist with millisecond accuracy.
Jamie Staff, Beijing Olympic gold medallist, said: “This technology is a major step forward in training for us and will provide more accurate data to hone performances for future events. As a sprinter it is vital that we have the most accurate system available – current break beam systems cannot differentiate between cyclists on the track and are less accurate, so this new technology will allow us to train harder and more as team.”
James Baker, Director of Technology and Engineering Services for BAE Systems, added: “The new performance system demonstrates the essential role of engineering in helping our athletes to achieve those fractional improvements, which are often key to sporting success.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to harness the skills of our 18,000 engineers to support the British athletes as they prepare for success on the world stage. Our ongoing partnership with UK Sport offers an ideal opportunity for us to showcase the importance of engineering and how it can make a difference to everyone's lives. With this work we hope that more young people will consider a career in engineering."
Dr Scott Drawer, Head of Research and Innovation for UK Sport, said: “At this crucial time for British sport it is fantastic to be able to tap into BAE Systems’ expertise in innovation to support us in delivering bespoke performance solutions to our athletes, which will ultimately help them strive for future success.
“This particular project is a fantastic example of how knowledge and experience from outside the sporting world can be applied effectively to give our athletes an edge in their preparation and training.”
Launched in January 2008, the five-year technology partnership is providing state-of-the-art technological support to British sports, with access to the technical knowledge and expertise of BAE Systems' UK-based engineers. In addition to the work with British Cycling, BAE Systems and UK Sport are working together to develop new technologies for several of Britain’s other successful sports, and will continue to do so over the coming three years.