Eye in the sky in Oz

Australia's round of the World Rally Championship, Telstra Rally Australia, is to trial a helicopter camera system to keep a watchful eye on teams competing in the three day, 1200 kilometre event

Eye in the sky in Oz

A Gyro-controlled television camera will be fitted to one of the rally's five helicopters and will beam live pictures continuously to rally headquarters.

Dubbed the "Eye in the Sky", it's believed to be the first time that a rally has attempted to monitor in real time the entire competition route of a rally.

"This is a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of rally safety," said Clerk of Course Garry Connelly.

"Not only will this enable us to quickly evaluate the situation if there is an accident, it will also assist in us checking route conditions in real time, immediately prior to starting cars on a particular special stage of the rally," Connelly said.

The helicopter will follow cars as they race through the forests of Western Australia and transmit the vision via a microwave link to a ground station located on high ground within a range of 100 kilometres.

The link tracks the ground station using a satellite navigation tracking system. At the ground station, the vision will be patched into Telstra's extensive fibre optic network and sent to the rally command centre at Perth's Sheraton Hotel.

Rally organisers will be able to see, in real-time, exactly what is happening on the remote forest roads up to hundreds of kilometres away.

In addition, rally organisers are planning to provide a "bonus" for spectators visiting the centrally located service parks on the first and third days of the rally, where giant video screens will show live vision from the safety helicopter camera.

Telstra Rally Australia will be the penultimate leg of the FIA World Rally Championship and will be held in Perth and Western Australia's country areas from November 9-12.

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