Fueled by advances in boat design and all the data expertise you'd expect in an Oracle-sponsored project, Team USA looks to gain a high-tech advantage as it defends its America's Cup championship.
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The collaboration between Ruckus and Oracle serves not only the sailors but also the Team USA designers and data miners. Following each training session, Ruckus Smart Mesh Wi-Fi technology sends gigabytes of data collected on the boat's server to a data center for analysis. This helps the team deduce whether boat alterations are working, by assessing whether calculated load tolerances fared as expected, or whether improved handling owed to design decisions or simply better-than-normal sailing conditions.
Aldaz said that design changes are often tested by sending similar boats out in pairs. "Essentially the one that got faster was doing better." For the AC-72's construction, however, he said, "It doesn't make a lot of sense to build two boats at the same time. You want to learn from one."
Waving to the incomplete vessel's frame, he stated, "We hope [this] isn't the boat that will race the America's Cup. We hope that our second boat will be a lot better." He said the in-progress model should be completed by early September, while the second vessel is slated to be completed in early 2013.
Aldaz also noted how Ruckus has helped with data collection. "We've been struggling to get real data out [of practice sessions]," he said. He said that range was typically limited to 200 or 300 meters, which meant following the racing vessel around in a motor boat to maintain a signal.
Though teams at the data center are not allowed to collect data during races, immediate collection during practice systems is essential to perfecting boat design. Falcone said money and resources haven't been the limiting factor--time has. The ability to quickly capture and analyze information ameliorates this shortcoming.
Aldaz said the AC72 will eventually undergo two-boat testing, but in the interim, design validation efforts will rely on data mining.
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