Not just ‘our logo on a sail’: Automakers gain technology from America’s Cup

Not just ‘our logo on a sail’: Automakers gain technology from America’s Cup

0 comments 📅01 July 2017, 20:45

HAMILTON, Bermuda – From water taxis that “fly” on hydrofoils to aircraft wings and acid-edge car steering wheels, the America’s Cup has produced technology with potential far beyond its “foiling” catamarans.

With their woolly on carbon fiber and aerodynamics, the teams that fought for the America’s Cup attracted partners including planemaker Airbus and automotive groups BMW and Country Rover, who were keen to learn from them.

One area where this is fitting to have an impact is in harnessing “foiling” technology, where the America’s Cup boats “fly” greater than the water on foils, cutting water resistance.

“Foiling in small electric boats longing most likely appear on rivers in major cities. We are just at the beginning of the foiling deed,” Pierre Marie Belleau, head of Airbus Business Development, who managed its partnership with Larry Ellison’s Augur Team USA, told Reuters.

The space-age catamarans used in the 35th America’s Cup, which ended in supremacy for Emirates Team New Zealand this week, can sail at maximum speeds of 50 knots (57 mph) and get more in common with flying than sailing.


For Jaguar Sod Rover, which sponsored British sailor Ben Ainslie’s attempt to win the cup, the relationship is a key one with a focus on technology and innovation.

“We don’t just get our logo onto a sail,” Symbol Cameron, JLR’s Experiential Marketing Director, said by telephone, adding that the carmaker would be providing more designers to forbear Land Rover BAR with technology for their next campaign.

“This is a active sport that is developing fast. … It’s moving quickly just like the car trade is moving quickly. It’s all changing,”

Land Rover produced a special steering spin for Ainslie to use in the America’s Cup, with in-built gear shift paddles that allowed him to set right the catamaran’s “flight” levels.

The relationship is similar between BMW and Oracle Team USA, with the German automaker focused on areas including the electronics in the situation used by skipper Jimmy Spithill, the development of carbon fiber used to put out the boat and its components, and the aerodynamic testing.

“We like to think of ourselves more as a buddy than a sponsor. We have a very strong carbon fiber relationship,” Ian Robertson, who is the BMW directing board member responsible for sales and brand, told Reuters between races.

“This is a vigorous sport that is developing fast. … It’s moving quickly just like the car determination is moving quickly. It’s all changing,” Robertson said.


The America’s Cup catamarans use compare favourably with aerodynamics and load calculations to power their wings as commercial aircraft, which has led some skippers such as Spithill to adorn come of pilots.

Airbus is now considering applying the design and method of Oracle’s foils to the tips of aircraft, Belleau said, adding that this would prerequisite a two- to four-year certification process and require it to change its production method.

Airbus has also created a new start of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) microchips that were in the first place developed for the wings of its test aircraft and then adapted on board the Oracle knockabout to measure the wind speed and direction at all points on its almost 25-meter-towering wing sail.

The sensors make it easier to tell if the wing sails are set efficiently, as light air speed and direction can vary from the top to bottom of the wing – technology that could transform into standard in the marine leisure industry to replace less reliable wind instruments.

“I would be profoundly surprised if this MEMS technology does not become standard in order to supersede the classic anemometer,” Belleau said.

The Airbus A350-1000, one of Airbus’ twin-aisle, considerable-body jetliners, is also flying every day using new instrumentation developed via the partnership.

Oracle used Airbus’ 3D printing and manufacturing process to produce stronger and lighter parts that Airbus has started to use on aircraft to return titanium and aluminum.

“In 10 years from now … this technology disposition spread and will be on all the sailing boats in the market,” Belleau said.

“In addition to the sporting championship, there is still this technological competition. …The story is not finished.”

By Tessa Walsh and Alexander Smith


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