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Harnessing tech for sporting success

Lead Technologist for Sensors, BAE Systems
They say that variety is the spice of life and in my role at BAE Systems this is certainly true. One day I was chairing an international conference on optical systems in Berlin and the next I was helping set up an environmental monitoring system for horses at one of the UK’s national sports training facilities!
Image of Henry WhiteThis activity came about through my work as technical lead in BAE Systems’ partnership with UK Sport. As the Official Engineering Partner, we are supporting British athletes in preparing for sporting success through the application of leading edge technologies and engineering solutions.
 
The challenges we are given in applying our engineering expertise to the sporting arena can be somewhat varied and unexpected, hence the requirement for the horse monitoring system. This was requested by the British Equestrian Federation to help measure atmospheric conditions in horseboxes and ensure the animals arrive at competitions in a peak state of health and fitness. The Federation wanted to better understand how environmental factors including ammonia affect horses when en route to major sporting events.
 
Clearly at BAE Systems we know the vital importance of monitoring environmental parameters in a high performance and dynamic situations. As military domains become more contested and congested, technologies become more complex and sources of data multiply, it is crucial that pilots and the operators of military equipment are in the best physical and mental condition to make critical decisions, assess vast quantities of data and act quickly. Our integrated sensing systems help ensure these conditions are in place for humans by recording the environment within aircraft – from the quality of the air to the temperature and pressure levels. These sensors are also critical for the performance of defence equipment. With such knowledge, the physical and mental needs of the pilot can be better anticipated and because the sensors also help us understand the performance of the equipment, maintenance activities can be undertaken as required as opposed to as part of a routine schedule – and this can produce considerable operational savings.
 
We decided that we were able to transfer our capability in this area directly to meet the challenge set by the British Equestrian Federation. Our resulting technology - Equus-Sense, builds upon sensor systems such as those that monitor cockpit conditions and air quality found in Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft.
 
As well as ammonia levels, vibration, temperature, dust levels, carbon monoxide and shock levels are also measured. As a result, when the horses safely arrive at their destination, the team can quickly assess the horse’s journey and understand what specific process they need to go through to enable the horses to be competition ready as soon as possible. These units are now with the British Equestrian Federation and are clocking up some significant travel miles!
 
We decided that we were able to transfer our capability in this area directly to meet the challenge set by the British Equestrian Federation. Our resulting technology - Equus-Sense, builds upon sensor systems such as those that monitor cockpit conditions and air quality found in Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft.

Henry White

, Lead Technologist for Sensors, BAE Systems
 
One of the great pleasures I have working on the partnership is the opportunity to work with our talented apprentices and graduates. The enjoyment and buzz of energy that they get from working on the various sporting projects is infectious and you can see it carried over in to their day jobs. We also host sporting representatives at our sites to meet our engineers and discuss current and future projects. The sports teams are always really impressed by the innovations we have developed and fascinating discussions always ensue about how we could transfer technologies from defence to the sporting field.
 
We can’t talk about many of the sports projects we work on to maintain competitive advantage but just to shave a few milliseconds off a personal best time takes a team of engineers from BAE Systems, UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport. And while we can’t discuss all the great projects we’re working on, it’s exciting to know that the work we are doing will help Team GB achieve some of their best results.
top Image of Henry White
Henry White Lead Technologist for Sensors, BAE Systems 17 January 2019