A new season has come, and the PoliMi Sailing Team is ready to face new challenges and to promptly respond to the new and high standards set. It all started with the recruiting phase, which brought many new team-mates: starting from a reduced number of students corresponding approximately to 60 people, we saw a growth of 50% which led the team to a total of 90 people. Even though it’s still February, we already faced several obstacles, most of all the one concerning us being “nomads”: we have been without a place where to meet and work since half December and clearly this implied some extra stress and unexpected extra work. In the last few weeks, the department's heads worked hard to find a new “office” and… guess what: they did it! Therefore, by the end of February we will be ready to move to our new hub.
THE 2023 GOALS
In order to always keep our standards high and to achieve satisfying results we need to set new targets. The new most challenging one consists of equalizing the skill level of new team members and bring it to a level where we can all be valuable assets to the team and to ensure that the members themselves are satisfied with the work they do. Furthermore, it is extremely important to ensure a clearer communication within every team and among them. In order to achieve this, we are experimenting with some collaborative online platforms allowing the members to share thoughts and ideas.
THE 2023 TEAM
The team is currently made up of students from the Engineering, Architecture and Design departments of the Politecnico di Milano; in particular, there are students enrolled in Aerospace, Mechanical, Electronic and many other engineering faculties. We always get to have the most qualified people working in things they are the best at, and the students are supervised by Professor Andrea Ratti and Professor Arianna Bionda. The team has decided to make some changes and - since one of the main innovations of the 2023 season will be the automatic flight control - it has been created a new department: Mechatronics. At the same time the division for the other departments has not changed from the last year. The team is carefully and professionally lead by the Team Leaders: Beatrice Rimoldi and Maddalena Rossi that are able to keep together our six departments of Mechatronics, Sensors, Materials, Structures, Performance and Logistics. In this way we can work simultaneously on multiple tasks as each department is focused on its field of interest. Also, we always get to have the most qualified people working in things they are the best at. The entire team meets together about once a month when each department's head, as well as the team leaders, update everyone about the ongoing team situation. This system has proved to be efficient: the work is split among the team members, allowing them to be always aware of what everyone else is doing.
The project that the mechatronics department is about to undertake is the construction of a cutting-edge sailing boat. We will use innovative technologies to ensure an optimal sailing experience. First, we will use servomotors to vary the flap angle of the main foil and the angle of attack of the rudder foil which allow us to have greater control over the speed and the stability of the boat. In addition, we will use an electronic board to manage the control system that permit having greater precision in managing the various functions of the boat. Finally, we will use a control model that uses a dynamic model of the boat to predict the best control configurations in order to maximise specific targets such as: increasing maximum speed, reducing the boat's take-off time and stabilising the boat as best as possible. In summary, the use of servomotors, electronic board and dynamic model will allow us to obtain a faster, more stable and easier to manage boat, that meets the needs of sailing enthusiasts.
Over the past two years, following requests from other departments of the team, the sensor one has begun to design a data acquisition system for our Moths. The first version used mostly amateur-grade materials, an Arduino-based system with entry-level accelerometers, gyroscopes, and GPS. Subsequently, with the help and support of some new sponsors we had the opportunity to move to the use of more accurate GPS sensors and commercial wind sensors. This year, thanks to the experience gained, we have decided to expand our system by introducing much more sophisticated components. These include a new digital ultrasonic wind sensor provided by one of our sponsors, magnetic encoders, high precision inertial units and other measurement and data transmission devices. However, these innovative components require an ad-hoc developed platform, which is why part of the department took care of designing the electronic board that will connect all the modules to the micro-controller. In fact, a big step forward is the new micro-controller that will manage the whole system: this is in fact based on a latest generation ARM processor, guaranteeing low consumption associated to the computing power of more than 300 Arduino boards. Ultimately our goal is to provide the skippers and the whole team with the data necessary to evaluate and improve the performance of our boat: therefore, the main challenge will be to collect as much data as possible in all conditions in a precise and reliable way.
Following the experience learned from the construction of Teti 2022, the materials team focused on optimizing the lamination code concerning the hull and deck, investigating possible alternatives in terms of the choice of materials and lamination sequence. Following an initial investigation carried out on the reinforcing fibres - in terms of mechanical properties and durability - we are now shifting our attention to the research of matrices that present a good balance between mechanical properties and environmental impact, maintaining a study approach of the type " cradle-to-grave". Following primary studies, we enforced the hypothesis of hybrid laminates, which are particularly interesting in structural applications. The latter appear to be a good compromise between the reduction of the use of carbon fibres and the final mechanical properties of the composite. The next step is to try to investigate and characterize how fibres of different nature interact and work, in order to avoid possible problems deriving from a bad transmission of loads in the composite. At the same time, the team has begun some research work on data relating to the environmental impact - in terms of equivalent CO2 emitted - of the materials considered for the design of our future moths. The latter will be useful for carrying out comparative LCA analyses, in order to have a clear view of the different hypothesized scenarios not only in terms of performance, costs and mechanical properties, but also in terms of their environmental impacts. In this way it will be possible to evaluate the different design options having numerical values that define the relative impacts (CO2 eq.) related to the choice of a specific material or production process, and consequently choose the best compromise by adopting a specific property or mechanical resistance. The main goal is the minimization of CO2 equivalent emissions.
The structures department has always had as its primary objective to ensure the reliability of the boat in its integrity by seeking a compromise in terms of weight. The experience gained in the past and the mistakes made oblige us to do better this year. The goals we have set ourselves are to have each substructure designed in the best possible way to serve the needs of each other department, to ensure a strong advance management of volumes and weights and a preventive conception of the manufacturing part during the design phase. Thanks to the training course held by the most expert members of the department, now all the members have acquired more than partial autonomy in the design and use of FEM software, allowing them to delve into many more problems than in the previous years. In concrete terms, it will be possible to completely disassemble the terraces following a safe life approach: the ease of assembly/disassembly offers many advantages including the possibility of quick and effective checks and the replacement of individual components rather than of the entire terrace system. The trampolines will be woven and sewn ad hoc in such a way as to have shapes optimized for the aerodynamic aspect. The spreaders of the boat will have a topological and structural optimization algorithm behind them as well as effective engineering of the manufacturing aspect. The tail will have steel joints and carbon tubes in order to make the rudder as stable as possible and finally the entire boat will be equipped with a professional and detailed FEM (as well as CAD) model.
In the world of sailing, every detail counts when it comes to achieving peak performance. From the design of the boat's hull to the shape of its foils, everything must be optimized for speed and efficiency. In particular, the keel and rudder foils play a critical role in a boat's performance and their design is a focus key for many designers and engineers. CFD simulations allow the Performance department to model the flow of water around the boat and its foils and to optimize their shapes and geometries to minimize drag and maximize lift. By making use of CFD simulations, our engineers can explore a wide range of design possibilities and quickly assess the impact of different changes. Looking ahead to 2023, we will be taking this approach even further. In addition to refining the shapes of the keel and rudder foils, we will be exploring the use of terraces to improve the boat's aerodynamics. By using CFD simulations to explore the impact of terraces on a boat's performance, our designers and engineers hope to gain new insights into how to optimize the design of these critical components. Of course, designing a high-performance sailing boat is about more than just optimizing its foils: the design of the hull, sails, rigging and other components all play important roles in determining a boat's performance. Nevertheless, the design and refinement of the keel and rudder foils are our key areas of focus and the use of CFD simulations and terraces represents an exciting new frontier in this field. With each new development, we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in sailing and unlocking new levels of performance for our new boat!