Laserscanning to be Banned from July in the UK

Paul Jeffrey

Laserscanning banned.jpg

Laserscanning of race tracks in Great Britain is looking set to be banned from July 18th of this year.

In rather disappointing news for sim racing fans, the UK government have outlawed the use of laserscanning technology on British race tracks for fear of "untold damage" to the racing surface caused by capture methods of race simulation developers. This is especially pertinent to some UK tracks due to their UNESCO World Heritage listing such as Cadwell Park and Snetterton.

With laserscanning becoming increasingly popular in modern racing simulations, bringing the level of detail on our virtual race tracks to unprecedented levels of realism, the new British law will come as a massive blow to the aspirations of current and future game developers looking to capture accurate track data from race circuits located in the United Kingdom. Following the decision announced yesterday fears are growing that many other countries will follow the UK's lead in outlawing laserscan technology in racing environments.

Research undertaken by the Brunel University of London over the past three years has uncovered damaging claims that laserscanning a tarmac surface such as race tracks can weaken the racing surface by up to 25% (the equivalent of seven years continuous racing usage) and structurally weaken the integrity of the track base, potentially leading to costly repairs for circuit owners and more importantly exposing drivers to "unacceptable levels of risk over and above those considered reasonable for modern day motorsports"

Professor Gideon Thomas of Brunel University explains:

"A race track is a living and breathing thing, and with the often invasive techniques employed by individuals who use laserscanning technology on these tracks can cause untold damage. Using a controlled sample of over 40 commonly used materials in the construction of a modern racing surface, our research deems the damage caused to a track in just a single scanning session causes unacceptable levels of risk over and above those considered reasonable for modern day motorsports"

Thomas goes on to claim:

"With standard laserscanning techniques a track surface will generally deteriorate between 20 and 25% of it's surface integrity and furthermore cause a weakening of the structural rigidity of the track below what can be seen on the surface. This damage is irreversible once it has been caused, and untreated could potentially mean permanent damage that cannot easily be rectified by the circuit owner"
It is understood that the British government, under the leadership of the then Prime Minister David Cameron, had commissioned the research following concerns from a group of race track owners about the dangers of the reasonably recent technology.

Although the United Kingdom have moved to outlaw laserscanning from July, other countries have already begun to conduct their own studies into the findings produced by Brunel University as they look to make their own decisions on the continual use of this technology. Whilst motorsport and those responsible for organising events should always ensure the highest safety standards are adhered to for fans and competitors alike, this recent study could well have significant impact on the sim racing industry over the coming years.

RaceDepartment have reached out to several game developers and race track venues for their opinions on the matter and will publish more as it becomes known. Watch this space...

Do you think the new UK ruling will have a major impact on sim racing? Can drone scanning take over from traditional laser scan methods? Will other countries follow the UKs lead? Let us know in the comments section below!
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