BT has today announced that it has designed and successfully delivered the 4G wireless and fixed networks which will play a crucial role for Land Rover BAR as Sir Ben Ainslie’s team strives to become the first British boat to win the America’s Cup this summer.
As Land Rover BAR’s Official Technology in Sustainability Partner and a key member of the team’s Technical Innovation Group, chaired by PA Consulting, BT was tasked with combining its strengths in fixed and mobile networks to deliver the team’s innovative Virtual Chase Boat solution.
This allows data relating to the catamaran’s performance, local sailing and weather conditions to be collected and transmitted direct from the boat back to the ‘Mission Control’ room at the team’s operations centres in Bermuda and the UK. This data is then analysed and fed back to the crew to help improve the boat’s performance and give the team a competitive edge.
BT has selected a military-grade 4G LTE wireless link to transmit data and video footage from the boat on the Great Sound race course back to the base on the shore. BT’s high-speed global MPLS network then connects the support team in Bermuda with the technical team in Portsmouth.
The Virtual Chase Boat solution is significant because it removes the need for Land Rover BAR to deploy a team of engineers in a powerboat to follow the high-speed catamaran to capture and analyse its performance data. This substantially reduces the team’s emissions and carbon footprint, making their efforts to win the Cup as sustainable as possible.
Sir Ben Ainslie, Team Principal and Skipper, Land Rover BAR, said: “We collect massive amounts of data from the boat in real time during testing, and normally a Cup team would have engineers on the water to assess it, which is both expensive in resources and difficult at speeds of up to 60mph.
"Supported by BT, the development of the Virtual Chase Boat allows us to move the data assessment ashore and keep it in Portsmouth wherever we race in the world. This is a new operational model for our sport and removes a powerboat from the water every sailing day, significantly reducing the team’s carbon footprint and increasing our efficiency.
"BT is helping us push forward in this area and it will be a vital development for us as a team."
Howard Watson, CEO, BT Technology and Service Operations (TSO) said: “We’re really excited to be combining our strengths in next generation fixed and mobile networks to help Land Rover BAR power ahead as they compete to win the 35th America’s Cup.
"Our networking and big data expertise will help the teams on both sides of the Atlantic to deliver better performance from the boat. It’s all about our ability to help the support teams and crew to make better tactical decisions through access to better quality data in real time.
"We can’t wait to see the results and everyone at BT wishes Land Rover BAR every success in the competition.”
To transmit data from the boat back to shore, BT has installed a private band 4G wireless system. This delivers a high-speed uncontended link which will not be at risk from the huge bandwidth demands expected to be placed on the local mobile network by the swathes of spectators attending the event.
The military-grade nature of this wireless system gives Land Rover BAR the confidence that the boat’s critical performance data will be transmitted in real-time, regardless of how busy the public mobile and data networks might be at the time of the final race.
The 4G LTE system also operates at the 2043.5 MHz spectrum band in the UK and Bermuda, avoiding the 2.5GHz and 5GHz frequencies used by some wi-fi networks and which can be disrupted by spray or fog due to their absorption by water.
The delivery of a high-performance, uncontended fixed network to connect the team in Bermuda to the base in Portsmouth is also critical, not least because a number of cameras on the catamaran will be capturing footage live in HD. BT is helping Land Rover BAR transmit 16GB of uncompressed data, high definition video, images and audio a day directly from the R1 in Bermuda to ‘Mission Control’ in Portsmouth.
By using BT’s IP Connect network to provide a dedicated Ethernet connection between the two locations, with the highest levels of reliability and security, Land Rover BAR is assured that this content and data will be available to the team in Portsmouth when they need it.
BT is also lending Land Rover BAR its expertise in big data analytics to help the crew and technical teams to collect, analyse and interpret the boat’s performance data in real-time. The business is helping Land Rover BAR to create an intelligent data hub for this purpose, with two of BT’s big data experts fully embedded in the team until July 2017.
BT and Land Rover BAR came together in 2015 to launch 100% Sport, a global initiative to inspire sports fans around the world to take action to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions by switching to renewable electricity. The #go100percent campaign is based on the joint belief that, when harnessed effectively, the power of the sports fan could make a remarkable difference.
BT has committed to working towards 100% renewable electricity globally by 2020 while its technology has helped Land Rover BAR become the only British sports team to achieve the ISO20121 international sustainability standard.