The experiment used camera drones to fly overhead during the race, providing footage to race judges. While the concept was good, the initial experiment was not perfect. A poor internet connection resulted in a slow video signal being sent to the judges. Race officials got around the problem by carrying the drone’s memory card by hand to the judge’s booth. The time delay, however, might be deemed unacceptable to bettors, commented the Commission’s director of racing Brent Stone.
“That’s one of the logistics we’ll have to figure out,” he told CBC News, but deemed the video footage “a big help to us.”
“The drivers didn’t notice the drone, and the horses themselves didn’t notice the drone either,” he said. “The footage we got today was encouraging.”
The drone tests were performed during qualifying runs for upcoming standardbred races. The races feature a horse pulling a lightweight cart steered by a driver. No fans or betting were allowed during the event.
Officials say that drones provide a significant advantage over stationary video cameras, by allowing cameras to focus in on horses and riders during a race, quickly identifying infractions that could lead to disqualifications such as jockeys “illegally leaning into their competitors or whipping their mounts inappropriately, a practice known as ‘urging.'” says CBC.
Drivers who participated in the tests were supportive of the use of drones, saying that additional insight into the races will only help the sport. The commission says that they will expand the project to thoroughbred and quarter horse racing, but don’t currently have a timeline for implementation.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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