Grand Prix race goers experience life in the virtual fast lane

Posted on April 19th, by Kathryn Kutchel in Events, Melbourne, News, Our people, Survey.

The Australian Formula 1® Grand Prix is one of the most well-known and highly anticipated events of the Melbourne sporting calendar, with thousands of avid race-goers descending upon the otherwise quiet and tranquil Albert Park parkland for that one electrifying weekend in March.

What many don’t know is that the media doesn’t exaggerate when they mention that the park has been “completely transformed” in preparation for this weekend. The Grand Prix is ‘one of the few temporary sporting tracks’ which requires complete construction, and in a limited time frame. No other annual sporting event in the world requires a transformation this extensive; a multitude of companies working tirelessly behind the scenes to build the ‘largest temporary overlay’ for a world-class race-track from the ground up; and Taylors is proud to be one of those companies.

Taylors team members work on the Grand Prix track construction; team members surveying track construction

Taylors team members worked around the clock to survey the Grand Prix track

Taylors was first engaged by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation in 2011 to provide surveying and geospatial services which served as the foundation for the construction of all track and event facilities. “We survey everything from the grandstands to the sprinkler leads.” Said General Manager for the Taylors Infrastructure team, Anthony Emmerson. “Every piece of infrastructure that is placed, when turning a parkland into a grand prix circuit, has its exact positioning provided by us.” (source: Spatial Source). As the race has evolved in recent years, the demand for a greater number of event facilities to accommodate an influx of race goers has increased; and therefore, the challenges of maintaining the events ‘exceptional quality’ in such a short time-frame have prompted a more efficient and evolutionary workflow. “It’s a very high-pressure environment, with a very fixed deadline that just can’t be missed.”
“Success is about reliability and being able to fit into…a very short space of time.” Managing Director, Richard Cirillo stated. “You’ve got to be fast, accurate and know exactly what you’re doing.” It is this mindset that has pushed the Taylors team to deliver some of their finest work and ensure the compliance of high standards year after year. Since their first involvement, Taylors has recognized the challenges at hand and identified that a ‘solutions focused approach incorporating the latest in survey and geospatial technology’ would result in the best outcome.

Point cloud data capture of the Formula 1 Grand Prix track

Data capture of the Grand Prix track

“We reduced the number of people required on-site by implementing one person field teams and GPS technology…staying innovative and competitive is a big focus for Taylors. The advances we continue to make in spatial data capture and visualisation technology are extremely beneficial…the partnership with the Australian Grand Prix Corporation as been the perfect opportunity for these innovations to shine.” Says Mr. Cirillo. In recent years, Taylors developed a 3D Reality Model of the site, which assisted overall event planning and management and allowed the Corporation to ‘view potential changes in real-time which ultimately led to improved outcomes and increased efficiency’.
Among its many uses, the Reality Model was used this year to produce an ‘immersive virtual reality experience’ to attendees of all ages. “We are very excited to give everyone access to our latest innovation with an interactive demonstration on offer in the Industry and Innovation Precinct,” said Mr. Cirillo. “[We] hope that our VR innovation will inspire the next generation.”

Grand Prix race goers had the chance to immerse themselves in Taylors VR experience

Race goers get the chance to immerse themselves in Taylors VR experience

“Getting surveying out there is really important as many students have no idea what it is. The [Taylors Geospatial Technology Exhibit is] perfect for getting the word out there about surveying in a fun and interactive way.” Said Taylors representative, Trainee Survey Assistant, Josh Fisher. Over the course of the Grand Prix, students and the general public were given the opportunity to experience first-hand the wonders of surveying and virtual reality at the Taylors exhibit. It ‘was a perfect opportunity to reach young learners and let them know about the exciting technology used in the fields of surveying and geospatial science.’
Joining forces with the Surveying Task Force, a diverse team of Taylors representatives bought wonder to the masses through heavy rain, hail and intense sunshine on the Grand Prix weekend. Hundreds of students from several Melbourne schools were the first to experience the Innovation hub on the first two days of the race weekend, and no one walked away disappointed. Students had the opportunity to learn about drones, GPS, robotic total stations and photogrammetry – and how the equipment can be used in construction, architecture and town planning. “That experience was amazing, I loved it so much!” Exclaimed young student, Ben. “I would love to do something like this in the future.” (Source: Surveying Task Force)

Young visitors to the race experienced 3D Art and enjoyed virtual reality

Young visitors enjoyed the 3D Grand Prix experience

“Some students didn’t even know what surveying was before coming to the hub…I definitely think the hub has encouraged some students to consider surveying. Some of them seemed genuinely interested in what we are all about.” Said Mr. Fisher. There were questions aplenty and expressions of awe as the kids escaped reality and embraced the virtual world they eagerly jumped into. “There was a lot of laughter – friends laughing at friends as they knelt to get into a Formula 1®’s cockpit while wearing virtual glasses. The sensation of feeling like you were flying when the VR glasses projected you 100m above the Grand Prix track is one that will stick the kids for sure!” remarked RMIT Task Force representative, Thierry Demathieu. The rain over the weekend didn’t dampen young spirits either, as kids continued to flood through and eagerly interact with what the Taylors representatives could offer them.
“It was fun watching the reaction of young people experiencing VR for the first time.” Said, Trainee Survey Assistant, Jonny Ward. “[It was] such a great opportunity to talk to the general public about what Taylors is doing in the new technology space.” In addition to the experiences enthralling the children, Taylors demonstrated their expertise by producing 3D models of various Victorian landmarks, offering 3D scanning services to race-goers, and displaying ‘eye-boggling’ virtual art courtesy of esteemed fine artist, Richard Payne.

The Taylors team eating icecream and celebrating a weekend of teamwork at the Grand Prix

The Taylors team celebrating a weekend of teamwork

Deemed a ‘successful industry promotion’, the Taylors Geospatial Technology Exhibit would not have run so efficiently without such a strong support team enthusiastically chipping in to ensure that it was smooth sailing all weekend. Representatives from Taylors, Surveying Task Force and Kimoto were present all weekend sharing knowledge and building team relationships. “[It was] good to work alongside other employees as a team.” Remarked Mr. Ward. “And I enjoyed problem solving challenges and discussing solutions with people passing through the space.”
“I enjoyed being able to talk to and show the [people] something that I’m so passionate about, surveying.” Said Mr. Fisher. “More interactive days like these need to happen to give surveying the light it deserves.” The exhibit allowed for race attendees to gain a new understanding of exactly how the location they were currently in had been transformed from open parkland. Many attendees came for the technology and stayed for the knowledge that the Taylors team could offer. It was a great opportunity for the many years of dedicated work by all those involved to finally be on show and available for the public to experience.

Taylors Trainee Survey Assistant educating adults and kids at the Grand Prix about surveying, virtual reality and Taylors

Taylors Survey Assistant, Jonny Ward, educating race goers on surveying and virtual reality

Taylors are contracted to be involved in the Australian Formula 1® Grand Prix track construction for a few more years to come and will continue to lead the way in efficiency and innovation to uphold the standard of this prestigious location.