Thomas M. Carlsson
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Fig 1. A half-height cabinet was required to fit the hardware.

The Speedway Tracking System tracked 4 bikes around the oval dirt course and produced realtime 3D coordinates for each rider. Riders were identified based on the colour of their helmet hood.

Following a successful indoor prototype, I created an 9 camera Speedway race tracking systemin the spring and summer of 2003. At the time the hardware was quite clunky - Pentium 4s were cutting edge and due to the extreme conditions at the track (i.e. dirt, dust and rocks flying everywhere!) CCTV enclosure-protected PAL cameras was about as high end as we could go on the video ingest side.

Fig 2. An example race tracked by the system - in this undistorted system display the riders are identified by coloured blobs, and some of the dirt and dust is filtered out of the image.

Some of the key lessons of this prototype were:

  • Outdoor environvements are nothing like indoor environments in terms of difficulty
  • The more challenging the conditions, the more your camera placement matters
  • Design tracking systems to degrade as gracefully as possible, even if image or signal quality suffers.

These days one could recreate a system like this in the space of a shoebox for a fraction of the cost, but back in 2003 the prototype required a half-height cabinet due to the form factor of the video ingest hardware and the computers.


  • Three Pentium 4 class computers
  • 9 QPAL camera feeds in CCTV enclosures
  • Automatic tracking of Speedway races
  • Automatic identification of riders

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Thomas Carlsson
Thomas M. Carlsson
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