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America's Cup

Land Rover BAR’s virtual crew member

BAR have worked with BT and an innovative UK tech start-up Coderus, to create a tactical app which will act as their virtual seventh crew.

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 ever before.

The team needed to develop an aid which could intuitively and without prompting show critical information throughout the race. They enlisted BT and Coderus to help.

It was essential that the software was well crafted so its operation kept pace with events as they unfolded, as well as being optimised for robust network, hardware and battery performance, given the length of time that the crew spend on the water.

The team have designed the software for use on mobile and wearable tech.

The new tactical aid has been designed to provide critical data to the team about the strategic 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 allowing the team to make swift tactical decisions and giving them maximum time for manoeuvres.

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The aid can also tell the team exactly when to power up and accelerate so that they cross the line at the precise moment of the start, gaining a critical advantage from the very beginning by getting the team in front at Mark 1.

The leader at this point is expected to win up to 80% of the races for the America's Cup.

The technology works both on a tablet screen and a smart watch, so that the crew members can be alerted to glance down and see vital information about the sailing course instantly.

The team will be using high water-resistant Android tablets and watches.

During training sessions the technology, along with hundreds of sensors on the boat and voice communications, is all connected back to the shore via BT's military grade 4G wireless link.

This all goes back to experts at the team's Portsmouth base via a subsea cable, part of BT's global communications network.

The tactical aid will be used in a competitive race for the first time on the 26 May when the team begins competing in the 35th America's Cup. During races the tactical aid runs on its own, with no connection back to shore.