AI News, The Augmented Reality America’s Cup

The Augmented Reality America’s Cup

As a TV sport, sailboat racing is relegated to the same sorts of channels and time slots as bowling and poker: They’re worse than those for fishing and golf.

The problem is that even passionate sailing fans can find it hard to follow races on television, where producers cut back and forth between video of the boats and animated simulations of the action, attempting to show where the boats are in relation to one another.

You’ll also see perspectives and information never before available to spectators: the tracks of the boats through the water, course boundaries, penalties issued, wind direction, speed, and other things that significantly affect the outcome of the race.

Audio and video streams from the boats, virtual course marks “drawn” in real time on the televised water, and computer-controlled cameras on helicopters will all contribute to the viewing experience for those in front of televisions at home or standing near giant screens onshore.

For the first time, race umpires will be able to consult live computer-rendered diagrams showing boats and the location of different course markings before ruling on a possible rules violation, in much the same way that referees in American football now use instant replay—except America’s Cup umpires will look at the images before making their calls.

For example, racers used enormous and costly J-class yachts, typically about 38 meters in length, in the 1930s, then switched to the smaller and cheaper 12-meter class of boats, typically about 20 meters long, after World War II.

(As of mid-July, the challenge races among teams from Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden were under way.) A brash entrepreneur whose database company disrupted business computing in the 1980s and who is today the head of the world’s third-largest software vendor (behind only Microsoft and IBM), Ellison isn’t shy about betting big on new technologies.

The controversy over these boats, which sacrifice some stability for speed, came to a head last May, when a veteran British sailor from Sweden’s Artemis Racing team was killed after his boat “pitch-poled”—thatis, it flipped end over end—and suffered a structural failure during a training run.

Our past projects include the yellow first-down line now ubiquitous in televised American football, the tracking system now used in NASCAR and other motor races, and the ESPN K Zone system used to track and show a baseball’s path in the vicinity of the strike zone.

Racecourses typically run parallel to the direction of the wind, but sailboats can’t sail in a straight line directly into the wind, and sailing directly away from the wind is inefficient.

The laylines are imaginary lines that show the points from which the wind’s angle allows a boat to set a straight-line course, without additional tacks or jibes, directly to the next gate—one of the many pairs of buoys that mark the twists and turns of the course.

In place of the graphical inserts or separate animations that were used to explain the action in the most recent broadcasts, the visual cues will be integrated right into the action.

When boats enter this yellow zone, race rules aimed at defining which boat has the right of way determine which boat can take the shorter, inside turn through a gate.

In addition to the ladder with numerical meter markings and the yellow gate zones, we’re displaying laylines in yellow, boat tracks in a variety of colors, wind direction as an arrow on a compass, and text blocks that travel with the boats, spelling out such information as the boat’s name and speed.

At a glance, a viewer will be able to tell not only which boat is in the lead but also by how much, whether and how fast another boat is gaining on the lead boat, and whether competitors are taking similar or different approaches to the next gate.

But to combine graphics and live video seamlessly has required some serious engineering, involving integrating sensors, telemetry systems, and custom-written software.

And if our tracking is accurate to only 1meter, then when a boat enters a gate zone half a meter ahead of a competitor, we won’t actually know which one got there first, and umpires wouldn’t be able to use the data.

In order to position our graphics properly and make them appear to move with the boats, we also need to measure the direction in which the boat is pointing (the heading), the front-to-back tilt (thepitch), and the side-to-side heel (the roll) of each boat to within 0.1 degree.

We also need to know the heading, pitch, and roll of the TV camera that’s up on a helicopter capturing the overhead view of the race, because we’re synchronizing this video with the position data from the boats.

The 2-cm and 0.1-degree levels of position and orientation accuracy for the race yachts let umpires and race managers use our system to help run and officiate races.

Back onshore, a computer system takes all the position data from the boats and the helicopter—also outfitted with our augmented GPS-INS system—alongwith the video feed from the camera and matches every location in the real world to a pixel in the camera image.

We rely on the position data to identify the correct object—the boat—and then use those calculated perspective lines to position the name in relation to the boat so it appears integrated into the scene in a visually pleasing way.

In addition to the data needed for the augmented-reality system, we’re streaming 80 megabits per second of video from up to four of the seven HDTV cameras mounted on each boat, and we’re sending signals from shore that allow cameramen to remotely adjust each camera’s pan, tilt, zoom, and focus.

We also send about 500 kilobits per second of data to and from the boats, including things like race boat locations, course boundary changes, locations of course marks, and penalties, and about 150 kb/s to and from the helicopter.

Time-slotted protocols are an older approach that isn’t used widely today because they’re less flexible and, in cases of unpredictable channel usage, less efficient.

There are up to 14 HD video signals coming from the racing yachts, chase boats, various official boats, and helicopters, and each of those HD signals will be compressed from 1500 down to a range from 5 to 10 Mb/s and transmitted using COFDM.

We’ll use a high-speed PC with a specialized video capture card to bring graphics based on the position data and live video together in a composite image, synchronized by time codes.

in certain situations, an inside boat has the right to round the mark inside the curved path of the other boat, even if it didn’t enter the mark zone first.

The umpires on the water will make subjective judgment calls that include deciding whether a collision was avoidable—that is, determining if the helmsman of one boat gave the other room and opportunity to maneuver to avoid the collision.

This open-data policy makes sense in today’s Internet world: The basic raw data, including the real-time position of the boats, and race management data such as boundaries and penalties, will be streamed free of charge to the general public as it is being collected during the racing events.

Some of these apps are intended primarily for use by fans at the event so they can view live data about the race, such as the time or distance between boats, or listen to onboard audio from a selected boat.

In previous America’s Cup races, teams were carefully prevented from getting their hands on any detailed data from the media systems, but the teams worried that some competitor might figure out a way to break into the system and gain an advantage.

By making the data publicly available, we essentially made this problem vanish: All the teams are satisfied that they are fairly and evenly treated, because all the data is equally available to all the team members onshore.

We also hope that the umpiring and race management tools will become widely used and will permit all high-level national, world, and Olympic competitions to be run more efficiently and be judged more fairly and openly.

And we expect that the tools for graphically augmenting video will be applied to other sports that are also typically shot from aerial cameras, such as long-distance car racing, bicycle racing, marathons, and triathlons.

New ORACLE TEAM USA Boat An Engineering Marvel, Data Machine

ROYAL NAVAL DOCKYARD, BERMUDA—ORACLE TEAM USA has unveiled the sailing machine it will take into its defense of the America’s Cup this coming June: a sleek, aerodynamically sculpted foiling catamaran that is both a work of modern art and an engineering marvel.

Adhering to the new specs of this year’s competition, the new and improved yacht, unveiled Tuesday evening at ORACLE TEAM USA’s base here, is 15 meters (49.21 feet) long and weighs 2,400 kilograms (5,291 pounds).

The designers of the latest ORACLE TEAM USA boat worked with engineers from partner Airbus to apply aerodynamics, special materials, and structured load calculations similar to those for the wings and wing tips of commercial aircraft.

The partners also developed a new design and manufacturing process for the hydrofoils that reduced their weight and optimized their shape to maximize boat speed while safely supporting 10 to 15 tons of load.

The improved responsiveness of the new control system, which borrows from the flight control system of the Airbus A350 XWB airliner, will make it possible for the first time for the ORACLE TEAM USA catamaran to fly above water for 100% of the race time, said Pierre-Marie Belleau, head of Airbus business development.

It’s estimated that every time the yacht and its crew set sail, they generate as much as a terabyte of data, much of it video, collected from as many as 1,000 sensors attached to myriad boat and body parts and fed into a powerful Oracle Exadata database for analysis.

Sensors attached to the sailors themselves collect data on everything from heart rate, perspiration, and lactic acid levels to the number of hours they spend on the boat and the energy they exert grinding the winch handles that hoist and trim the sails and generate power.

There’s only so much data analysis that can happen in real time during races, as the six sailors on board (down from 11, given the smaller boats) are preoccupied with their mental and physical tasks: split-second tactical decisions amid crashing waters and constant, back-breaking cranking of handles.

The goal: Predict wind patterns (within half a knot accuracy) all the way down to 100-meter or even 50-meter grids on the race course, in order to plot precise pathways and minimize maneuvers, Burns said.

Towards Active Course Marks for Autonomous Sailing Competitions

On the one hand, environmentalmonitoring of open water bodies in real or deferred time is essential to assess and make sensible decisions and, on the other hand, the broadcast in real time of position, water and wind related parameters allows autonomous boats to optimise their regatta performance.

In environmental monitoring mode, the buoy gathers and stores data from several underwater and above water sensors and, in regatta mode, the buoy becomes an active course mark for the autonomous sailing boats in the vicinity.

Yachting World

The development of navigation apps has now advanced to the stage where tablets are being used regularly by many sailors as a primary means of navigation on board.

have selected a mix of seven navigation apps specifically focussing on new updates and innovative developments, but also with my eye on what our basic requirements for a good navigational app should be.

Tests were carried out inshore, offshore, creek hopping, racing and just sitting at home on my sofa using an iPad 2 and an ASUS model P023 running Android 5.0.2.

The well-developed user interfaces that app-based products provide are far superior to those found on most chartplotters and now, with NMEA integration, the all-important GPS fix comes from an external feed overcoming any accuracy concerns around using the GPS receiver built in to the tablet.

Before setting off on longer passages ensure that you have downloaded the charts for any ports of refuge along the way and that your current package covers countries where you may conceivably need to make landfall.

Check whether your chosen app includes chart updates and how they are accessed – many apps require a subscription after the first year to keep charts up to date.

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