Ben Ainslie Racing Hopes IoT Can Help Win Britain’s First America’s Cup

Water and technology are not known to be the best bedfellows, what with the uncanny ability of H2O to turn expensive smartphones into glorified paperweights.

But, when it comes to the competitive world of catamaran racing, there’s more tech out on the water than many onshore onlookers would imagine.

This is especially true of the boats in the America’s Cup World Series. Colloquially referred to Formula One on the water, the boats are a testament to tech-aided design with their mix of lightweight composite materials paired with carbon fibre sails or ‘vertical wings’ the size of those found on jumbo jets.

And the catamarans themselves are effectively hubs of connected smart sensors and systems, effectively taking the Internet of Things (IoT) out to sea.

The reason for all this technology, is like Formula One, the completion between the teams is tight, forcing both boat engineers and sailors to be at the top of their game if they are to ‘fly’ their boats to safety.

“There is really now a technical arms race going on in the Americas Cup,” Martin Whitmarsh CEO of Land Rover BAR, one of the top teams in sailing race, told Silicon in an interview IoT Solution World Congress 2016 in Barcelona.

“We’re developing these really high performance foiling catamarans that are capable of more than three times the speed of wind; 85 kilometres per hour.”

IoT on the water

Describing the series of races that make up the America’s Cup as a war in both technology and sailor skill, Whitmarsh told us how Land Rover BAR has deployed hundreds of sensors on its boat to trawl up a veritable treasure trove of data.

This ranges from the information on how the boat’s control systems are used, to the pressures and loads on the wing and the strains exerted upon the boat’s hydrofoils when it is ‘flying’; a term used when most of the catamaran is out of the water and only its hydrofoil keeps it connected to the sea.

“We’ve instrumented the boat with over 400 sensors, so every time we’re out in the boat we are collecting a mass of data,” said Whitmarsh.

All this data is invaluable for the racing team, both engineers and sailors, to work out how to eek more performance out of their designs, sailing strategy, and tactical decisions.

Read what Martin Whitmarsh has to say on page 2…

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Roland Moore-Colyer

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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