Labosport Technicians Participate in Round Robin 2022

In May 2022, Labosport attended the annual Round Robin in Madrid, where technicians were examined by several governing bodies over 10 days. This included FIFA/World Rugby/FIH/Futsal and goalpost testing. It was a significant event because it was cancelled the last few years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Labosport sent 18 technicians from the UK, Italy, France and Canada. It is estimated 100 technicians took part from institutes all over the world. The week began with four days of assessment by FIFA and World Rugby. This included testing one football and one rugby pitch using the equipment required for a comprehensive performance test. The results were documented and technicians observed, and both were analysed by representatives from the governing bodies.

The futsal and goalpost tests were the next set of scheduled tests, and these were completed in small groups. Technicians worked with governing body representatives to ensure the correct techniques and methods were used.

The FIH Round Robin was held on two separate hockey pitches over two days. Comparable to the FIFA/World Rugby event, the technicians were examined on the complete suite of performance tests required for the FIH test.

Labosport’s trip to Spain was an enormous success. Technicians enjoyed the warm weather and the opportunity to meet teams from other test institutes.

Labosport Introduces the Red Robin

Labosport is pleased to unveil its new Red Robin device for the assessment of sports fields – an autonomous solution that collects data along a pre-defined virtual grid of measurement locations. At each test location, the Red Robin can measure NDVI (0.00 to 1.00), turf coverage (0% to 100%), turf colour (graphic), surface hardness (Clegg, 0g to 500g), soil moisture (0.0% to 100.0%) and surface temperature (-30.0 ºC to +150 ºC). It enters the market as the most advanced rolling drone in the industry.

Red Robin combines AI and autonomous vehicle technology to liberate grounds staff and technicians from repetitive tasks. Its consistency and precise programmed procedures improve data collection accuracy while reducing test times. It can effortlessly move forward, backward and make 360-degree turns across a variety of surface conditions and in most weather. The Red Robin is equipped with a fast-charging battery that lasts up to 4-hours of continuous operation. Data analytics comprise heat maps and historical tendency graphs which are accessible via mobile phone (app), tablets, laptops, and desktops. Information is stored using the most advanced cloud-based encryption.

The Red Robin platform is designed with scalability in mind; it is built to be durable and whenever additional tests, equipment and sensors are needed, they can be easily added and connected to the on-board computer. Sustainability is one of the key values influencing Labosport’s research and development team. The base unit can embed new technology as required, making it a smart investment with flexible pricing. Labosport expects to offer new measurement modules regularly, with software and apps designed for seamless upgrades in performance. The first bundle of upgrades is slated for late 2022.

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Labosport Collaborates with FIFA and Loughborough Researchers on Artificial Pitch Testing

Labosport and Loughborough University researchers have collaborated with international governing body giant FIFA to bring artificial pitch testing into the modern era.

As the use of artificial turf increases worldwide, researchers from Labosport and Loughborough’s Sports Technology Institute have been selected as key partners to develop and improve testing methods, ensuring quality and consistency is maintained throughout.

Dr. Steph Forrester, Reader in Sports Engineering and Biomechanics, explained: “FIFA put out a call for proposals to develop the next generation of mechanical test devices to access the player surface interaction on artificial turfed football pitches.

“Our knowledge and understanding of artificial turf and how it behaves under player interactions has increased and obviously technology has increased too. There’s massive scope to make these test devices much better and to bring them into the modern game.

“The common global aim for this project is to improve artificial turf surfaces for football players worldwide. For us, as researchers, it’s great to be involved in a project where we can demonstrate the impact of the research we do and for that impact to be global.”

Katharina Wistel, Group Leader FIFA Quality Programme, said: “We knew we had to reach out to the wider football research industry as we also knew that it would be key to objectify the very subjective feeling that players have when using artificial surfaces. The project should help us identify this gap and close it.”

Dr. Jon Roberts, Senior Lecturer and Head of Sports Technology Research Group, touched upon the challenges faced and the importance of new research in an evolving market:

“One of the problems we’re looking to address is that the current test devices have been used for many years and aren’t necessarily devised to assess artificial pitches.

“Consequently, what we’re finding is the measured data from the test devices doesn’t necessarily reflect player opinion.”

Dr. David Cole was also involved in the testing and explained how the equipment records vital information.

“We have a number of samples (of artificial pitches) with a range of different tractions and hardness values. We’re trying to see how sensitive the athletes are to changes,” he said.

“What we have is a studded force plate with some weights on top to replicate the human load. We bring up the device, drop it on the surface and rotate. We then record the full torque angle profile and analyse that data to work out the traction of the surface.

“We [also] have the Advanced Artificial Athlete (AAA) and it replicates a human foot strike on a surface…these two devices look at the vertical and horizontal forces generated. These allow us to do these in a repeatable way where we can compare different areas of the pitch and different pitches altogether.”

Professor Paul Fleming, Professor of Sports Surface and Ground Engineering, said:

“Testing of artificial turf is really important for lots of reasons. It’s done to approve products, approve installations of fields, the comparison between products, and in some cases, it’s done to provide more detailed characteristics about how we expect the field to play. This also links to the performance of athletes and injury of athletes.”

Throughout the project Loughborough also worked alongside leading sports field testing and certification company, Labosport.

Labosport’s Managing Director, Professor David James, explained our input in the research.

“Our involvement in the project is to provide that end user perspective. We can inform the design of the equipment and take it on the road with us, around the UK and the world, to see how it performs.”

More updates will be provided as the project progresses.