Drone Use For Races 'Encouraging'

Published: December 3, 2016 06:08 pm EST

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's (AGCO) test run using drone cameras to capture footage of harness racing was held during the Friday (December 2) morning qualifying session at The Raceway at Western Fair District.

The AGCO is conducting the pilot project to explore innovative ways to build on the officiating capabilities of race officials. The unique camera angles possible from drones could provide improved fields of view that could ultimately assist AGCO judges in officiating races -- focusing on potential infractions such as interference, urging violations, or horses leaving the course (pylon rule).

The AGCO commissioned the services of the Hamilton-area Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) camera company DroneBoy for Friday's pilot project. During the qualifying session, two drones were used and operated by a pilot and second crew member controlling the video feed. The drones hovered approximately 20 metres overhead travelling at a speed around 45 km/hr.

"The drivers didn't notice the drone, and the horses themselves didn't notice the drone either," AGCO's director of racing Brent Stone was quoted as saying in a CBC article. "The footage we got today was encouraging."

The article explains that a test run revealed a logistical issue that delayed the drone footage reaching the judges quickly. The video signal sent to the judges was too slow due to the internet connection and the footage had to be retrieved from the drone after it landed then manually transported to the judges' booth.

"That's one of the logistics we'll have to figure out," said Stone, adding that the drone footage "was a big help to us" overall.

Test runs are expected to be conducted with thoroughbred and quarter horse racing in the province as well. The deadline and outcome of the pilot project have yet to be determined.

(With files from CBC)



Great idea.Should help making informed decisions with regards to urging,kicking violations and claims of foul.Hope the judges use what they see consistently and treat all drivers the same.

Great idea. What about customer? Our energy and focus are at the wrong place.

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