Together with UK ‘tech start-up’ Coderus, Land Rover BAR’s Technology in Sustainability Partner BT, has helped to develop a tactical aid that will act as a virtual seventh crew member, as the UK yachting team strives to win the 35th America’s Cup competition this summer.
The reduction in crew numbers from eight to six after the last America’s Cup has meant that helmsman Ben Ainslie and tactician Giles Scott have more responsibilities — and less time than before to make decisions. The team needed to develop an aid “that could intuitively and without prompting show critical information throughout the race”. They asked BT and Coderus to help.
It was essential for the software to be able to keep pace with events as they unfolded, as well as being optimised to ensure robust network, hardware and battery performance, given the length of time that the crew spend on the water.
After a series of ‘agile development sprints’ and testing sessions over the past 12 months, the new tactical aid now gives the team critical data about the layout of the course, the position of the boat, how many legs of the race are left and how far it is to the next boundary — all details that allow the team to make swift tactical decisions.
The aid can also tell the team exactly when to “power up and accelerate” so that the boat crosses the start line at the precise moment of the start; the leader at this point is expected to win up to 80% of the America’s Cup races.
The team has water-resistant Android tablets and watches, which will be used in a competitive race for the first time on 26 May.
The tactical aid runs on its own during races, with no connection back to shore — unlike during the development phase, when hundreds of sensors on the boat and voice communications were connected to the team’s base via a BT military-grade 4G wireless link.
Mr Scott said: “We were desperate for a tactical aid that could act as a virtual seventh crew member and help our decision-making process during the race, providing the data that Ben and I need to gain a competitive advantage.
“We’ve had great support from BT and Coderus through all stages of the development, from design and build through to refinement out on the water.”