Please select your home edition
Edition
T Clew Ring New Generic

America's Cup- Oracle Data Mining supports crew and BMW ORACLE Racing

by Jeff Erickson on 25 Apr 2010
USA-17 on her way to winning the 33rd America’s Cup, use of Oracle’s datamining technology and Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Application Express BMW Oracle Racing © Photo Gilles Martin-Raget http://www.bmworacleracing.com

BMW ORACLE Racing won the 33rd America’s Cup yacht race in February 2010, beating the Swiss team, Alinghi, decisively in the first two races of the best-of-three contest.

BMW ORACLE Racing’s victory in the America’s Cup challenge was a lesson in sailing skill, as one of the world’s most experienced crews reached speeds as fast as 30 knots. But if you listen to the crew in their postrace interviews, you’ll notice that what they talk about is technology.

'The story of this race is in the technology,' says Ian Burns, design coordinator for BMW ORACLE Racing.

From the drag-resistant materials encasing its hulls to its unprecedented 223-foot wing sail, the BMW ORACLE Racing’s trimaran, named USA, is a one-of-a-kind technological juggernaut. No less impressive are the electronics used to guide the vessel and fine-tune its performance.

Each crewmember is equipped with a PDA on his wrist that has customized data for his job: what the load balance is on a particular rope, for example, or the current aerodynamic performance of the wing sail. The helmsman’s sunglasses display graphical and numeric data to help him fine-tune the boat’s direction while he keeps two hands on the wheel and visually scans the sea, the boat, the crew, the sails, and the wing.

The America’s Cup is a challenge-based competition in which the winning yacht club hosts the next event and, within certain guidelines, makes the rules. For the 33rd America’s Cup, the competing teams could not agree on a set of rules, so the event defaulted to an unrestricted format for boat design and cost.

'All we knew were the length of the boat and the course configuration,' says Burns. The boats were allowed a maximum length of 90 feet, and the course would be 20 miles out windward and 20 miles back. 'Within those parameters,' says Burns, 'you could build as fast a thing as you can think of.'

Learning by Data

The no-holds-barred rules for this race created what Burns calls an 'open playground' for boat designers. The innovative and costly vessels that resulted were one-of-a-kind creations with unpredictable sailing characteristics that would require a steep learning curve and lots of data.


'One of the problems we faced at the outset was that we needed really high accuracy in our data because we didn’t have two boats,' says Burns. 'Generally, most teams have two boats, and they sail them side by side. Change one thing on one boat, and it’s fairly easy to see the effect of a change with your own eyes.'

With only one boat, BMW ORACLE Racing’s performance analysis had to be done numerically by comparing data sets. To get the information needed, says Burns, the team had to increase the amount of data collected by nearly 40 times what they had done in the past.

The USA holds 250 sensors to collect raw data: pressure sensors on the wing; angle sensors on the adjustable trailing edge of the wing sail to monitor the effectiveness of each adjustment, allowing the crew to ascertain the amount of lift it’s generating; and fiber-optic strain sensors on the mast and wing to allow maximum thrust without overbending them.


But collecting data was only the beginning. BMW ORACLE Racing also had to manage that data, analyze it, and present useful results. The team turned to Oracle Data Mining in Oracle Database 11g.

Peter Stengard, a principal software engineer for Oracle Data Mining and an amateur sailor, became the liaison between the database technology team and BMW ORACLE Racing. 'Ian Burns contacted us and explained that they were interested in better understanding the performance-driving parameters of their new boat,' says Stengard. 'They were measuring an incredible number of parameters across the trimaran, collected 10 times per second, so there were vast amounts of data available for analysis. An hour of sailing generates 90 million data points.'

After each day of sailing the boat, Burns and his team would meet to review and share raw data with crewmembers or boat-building vendors using a Web application built with Oracle Application Express. 'Someone in the meeting would say, 'Wouldn’t it be great if we could look at some new combination of numbers?’ and we could quickly build an Oracle Application Express application and share the information during the same meeting,' says Burns. Later, the data would be streamed to Oracle’s Austin Data Center, where Stengard and his team would go to work on deeper analysis.


Because BMW ORACLE Racing was already collecting its data in an Oracle database, Stengard and his team didn’t have to do any extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes or data conversion. 'We could just start tackling the analytics problem right away,' says Stengard. 'We used Oracle Data Mining, which is in Oracle Database. It gives us many advanced data mining algorithms to work with, so we have freedom in how we approach any specific task.'

Using the algorithms in Oracle Data Mining, Stengard could help Burns and his team learn new things about how their boat was working in its environment. 'We would look, for example, at mast rotations—which rotation works best for certain wind conditions,' says Stengard. 'There were often complex relationships within the data that could be used to model the effect on the target—in this case something called velocity made good, or VMG. Finding these relationships is what the racing team was interested in.'


Stengard and his team could also look at data over time and with an attribute selection algorithm to determine which sensors provided the most-useful information for their analysis. 'We could identify sensors that didn’t seem to be providing the predictive power they were looking for so they could change the sensor location or add sensors to another part of the boat,' Stengard says.

Burns agrees that without the data mining, they couldn’t have made the boat run as fast. 'The design of the boat was important, but once you’ve got it designed, the whole race is down to how the guys can use it,' he says. 'With Oracle database technology, we could compare our performance from the first day of sailing to the very last day of sailing, with incremental improvements the whole way through. With data mining we could check data against the things we saw, and we could find things that weren’t otherwise easily observable and findable.'


Flying by Data

The greatest challenge of this America’s Cup, according to Burns, was managing the wing sail, which had been built on an unprecedented scale. 'It is truly a massive piece of architecture,' Burns says. 'It’s 20 stories high; it barely fits under the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an amazing thing to see.'

The wing sail is made of an aeronautical fabric stretched over a carbon fiber frame, giving it the three-dimensional shape of a regular airplane wing. Like an airplane wing, it has a fixed leading edge and an adjustable trailing edge, which allows the crew to change the shape of the sail during the course of a race.


Next Steps

'The crew of the USA was the best group of sailors in the world, but they were used to working with sails,' says Burns, 'Then we put them under a wing. Our chief designer, Mike Drummond, told them an airline pilot doesn’t look out the window when he’s flying the plane; he looks at his instruments, and you guys have to do the same thing.'

A second ship, known as the performance tender, accompanied the USA on the water. The tender served in part as a floating datacenter and was connected to the USA by wireless LAN.


'The USA generates almost 4,000 variables 10 times a second,' says Burns. 'Sometimes the analysis requires a very complicated combination of 10, 20, or 30 variables fitted through a time-based algorithm to give us predictions on what will happen in the next few seconds, or minutes, or even hours in terms of weather analysis.'

Like the deeper analysis that Stengard does back at the Austin Data Center, this real-time data management and near-real-time data analysis was done in Oracle Database 11g. 'We could download the data to servers on the tender ship, do some quick analysis, and feed it right back to the USA,' says Burns.

'We started to do better when the guys began using the instruments,' Burns says. 'Then we started to make small adjustments against the predictions and started to get improvements, and every day we were making gains.'

Those gains were incremental and data driven, and they accumulated over years—until the USA could sail at three times the wind speed. Ian Burns is still amazed by the spectacle.

'It’s an awesome thing to watch,' he says. 'Even with all we have learned, I don’t think we have met the performance limits of that beautiful wing.'


http://www.oracle.com/us/products/database/options/data-mining/index.html!Read_more_about_Oracle_Data_Mining

http://streaming.oracle.com/ebn/podcasts/media/8576609_Ian_Burns_030810.mp3!Hear_a_podcast_interview_with_Ian_Burns

http://www.oracle.com/technology/software/products/database/index.html!Download_Oracle_Database_11g_Release_2

Story republished from: www.oracle.com/technology/oramag/oracle/10-may/o30racing.html

Kilwell - 3Schaefer 2016 Ratchet 300x250North Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr