The "ultimate driving machine" is helping Olympic athletes become the ultimate jumping machines.

As part of their partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee and sponsorship of U.S. Track & Field, BMW launched a velocity measurement system to better analyze and improve long jumpers' performance. The system captures an athlete in motion and records the three key metrics of a long jump: horizontal approach velocity, vertical take-off velocity and take-off angle.

The motion capture technology uses stereo-vision and machine vision software - similar to what the German automaker is testing to help cars better detect pedestrians and other objects on the road.

But when it comes to the track, coaches and athletes can use the real-time data to tweak performance.

"As a decathlete, my reality is one in which centimeters and thousandths of a second are the difference between an Olympic gold medal and no medal," says Brian Clay, 2008 Olympic gold medal winner for the men's decathlon. "The feedback this tool is able to provide immediately, during a practice as opposed to days afterward, will enable me to make minor adjustments to my jumps that could equate to significant performance gains."

The system is already being used at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

The amount of real-time data presented by this tool will help coaches and sports scientists to make better decisions and maximize the efficacy of athlete training sessions,” said USATF Chief of Sport Performance Benita Fitzgerald Mosley. "This is of tremendous benefit to our athletes and coaches at the Training Center ... we look forward to utilizing the tool for years to come."

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