“Triathlons Aided by Eyes in the Sky”
“A number of triathlons, including IronMan Lake Placid, EagleMan, and the Williamsburg Half, are planning to use unmanned air vehicles this year to enhance safety while cutting their sport’s considerable costs.
At many races, officials on motorbikes and kayaks charged with the enforcement of the rules and the safety of the athletes have become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of racers and the great length of the courses.
But the novel devices, known as UAVs or, more popularly, surveillance drones, will hover high above triathlons, employing advanced sensors and high-tech cameras to identify accidents and injured athletes, while ensuring racers comply with event regulations.
The drones are expected to cut down on illegal drafting and other banned behavior at EagleMan, PeasantMan, and other USAT-sanctioned events. They will also ensure the swift identification and dispatch of medical personnel to injured competitors.
The use of the stealthy, high-flying aircraft is hailed as a boon for race officials, currently limited to outdated technology like motor scooters and kayaks to scrutinize racers along the lengthy courses.
At EagleMan, for example, athletes have complained of rivals riding in illegal packs along the long lonely stretches of the bike course, far from the prying eyes of officials on motorbikes. At other races, triathletes have sometimes “cut the course”, along the run leg or at water buoys, due to the inability of race officers to be everywhere at once. Swarms of surveillance drones, in contrast, can be posted above every area of a course and at little expense.
“It’s about time,” commented a top-ranked triathlete and cyclist from the Austin-based headquarters of the Livestrong Foundation. “Folks are forever drafting behind me on the bike, and using the respite to dope illegally too.”
Almost all agree that surveillance drones outfitted with spy cameras are long overdue at popular venues such as Lake Placid. Somewhat more controversial is the proposal to outfit some of the aircraft with Hellfire missiles. The admittedly laudable notion is to deliver justice surely and swiftly, by zapping those caught on video violating race rules. The issue raises a wicket of legal and ethical concerns, however. One is whether USAT has the constitutional authority to target American athletes with high-precision rocketry.
Less controversial is the proposed use of directed-energy lasers aboard the aircraft to fry unwelcome jellyfish found in the Choptank River of EagleMan and ChesapeakeMan, or off the training beaches of Sandy Point.
In the Washington, D.C. region, the drone technology will be first tri-ed out in the upcoming series of “Splash and Dash” events at Arlington’s Yorktown High School, where the surrounding neighborhood’s hills, trees, high-rise condos, and sprawling military bases are expected to test the surveillance and weapons technology with realistic, race-like settings.”
- First published, April One, 2013. From ESPAMN News Service.
It's still no match for my underwater motor I hold under my stomach during open-water swims. Will aquatic drones be deployed in the murky depths as well??? If so, I may be forced to revert back to ankle holding.