Posted on November 2, 2016 by staff

Visualising success with BAE Systems at Rio 2016


BAE Systems delivers some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defence, aerospace and security programmes – but it was also integral to Team GB’s success at the Rio Olympics.

If there were medals for innovation and engineering excellence, the firm would be in the running for gold, with high-flying Typhoon and Lightning fighter plane programmes making all the headlines.

BAE Systems is also UK Sport’s official research and innovation partner. The eight-year partnership has seen it apply technology usually reserved for the defence and security sector to help the nation’s athletes improve their performance.

This partnership approach has helped more than 30 different sports and 250 Olympic and Paralympic athletes since 2008.

Recent projects include an advanced cycling ergometer used to measure the power output of Britain’s all conquering Rio cyclists.

Its visualisation experts have also been helping British athletes train by providing 360° and 3D simulations of course layouts ahead of major competitions.

Digital headset technologies are being used to integrate 3D video in new ways, aimed at providing a real benefit to a wide variety of sports including sailing, canoeing and triathlon – all Rio gold medal winning sports.

The technology provides a playback of 3D recorded material collated ahead of competition, giving athletes a fully immersive experience.

It allows them to feel familiar in the environments they’ll be competing in as well as understanding the undulations, twists and turns of a course layout. Again it is all about giving Britain’s elite sporting performers an edge.

Simon Timson, director of performance at UK Sport, says: “Familiarity and practice in the competition environment, whether real or virtual, breeds confidence in athletes.

“The advantages of virtual training should not be underestimated in the pursuit of excellence. This adaptation of new technology allows us to digitally bottle that experience for elite athletes and help them perform at their best.”

Brendan Purcell, performance director for British Triathlon, adds: “Having the support of a major technology business such as BAE Systems, is exciting and opens up new opportunities for us.

“We worked with them on this 3D video imaging project as part of our intelligent racing strategy, using content gathered at the Rio Test Event last summer.”

Another team of engineering experts at BAE Systems worked closely with the British cycling team to develop the state-of-the art advanced cycling ergometer to measure the immense power output of its elite performers.

It measures the work-rate and energy expended by cyclists and according to the BAE Systems experts is capable of replicating the inertial forces of a velodrome more accurately than any other testing tool.

The important data collected includes gas and blood analysis and enables testing at high speeds to analyse the technique of the cyclist.

In another of its sporting projects BAE Systems applied some of the techniques and principles used to develop fighter jets and military tanks to help give the GB Taekwondo team an edge.

Its team of engineers and scientists helped the team to evaluate the electronic scoring vest which is used in major international competitions.

As a result the GB Taekwondo team adjusted its training style to maximise the methods needed to score.

The company has also worked on a training simulator to enable GB’s Taekwondo competitors to develop new skills while significantly reducing the risk of injury through repetitive impact.

Henry White, BAE Systems’ UK Sport Technology Partnership lead, says: “We apply the same problem-solving principles and ingenuity to challenges in sport as we do to tackling complex defence and security programmes.”