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Body Rocket to develop new real-time aerodynamic drag meter for UK cyclists and athletes

NEWS: Body Rocket is latest SME to sign up to SPRINT

Project is funded by SPRINT programme and enables company to work with University of Southampton to prove validation of new product

Body Rocket, a Brighton-based start-up company focused on real-time aerodynamic drag measurement products for the sports industry, is working with the University of Southampton to bring a unique, real-time aerodynamic drag meter to market for athletes and cyclists.

This SPRINT-funded project will cover the testing and validation of the Body Rocket system including independent validation of the technology for gravity sports and cycling, and completion of the technology to enable the cycling product. The device, when ready, will provide real-time measurement of aerodynamic drag for athletes and make the Body Rocket product the first in the world able to actually measure aerodynamic drag forces outside a wind tunnel. It will help athletes to make vital improvements to their individual competitive performance.

The project will be funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses though the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

Currently, the only way to measure drag on a cyclist’s body is to conduct tests inside a wind tunnel. The project with the University of Southampton will test the sensing device first in the wind tunnel so that it can then be tested out on the road to measure drag independently.

With wind tunnels continuing to be the gold standard in aerodynamic measurement, the University of Southampton will provide Body Rocket with expertise in the aerodynamics of sports and sporting equipment to validate the company’s cutting-edge sensor technology.

The RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel at the University of Southampton is ideally suited for aerodynamic work and performance sport testing and has been at the forefront of aerodynamic research for more than 30 years. It is used extensively, not only by the performance sport industry, but also industries including automotive, aerospace and marine and maritime.

Eric DeGolier, Founder of Body Rocket said: “In many sports, like cycling, where aerodynamics is critical, the athlete’s body is a major contributor to drag. Measuring the effects changes in posture and technique have on aerodynamics while an athlete is competing is critical to improved performance.

“Body Rocket is committed to developing a method of measuring aerodynamic drag without reliance on a wind tunnel. We can achieve this by applying big data techniques used in industries such as motorsport but needed technical expertise and equipment

“By collaborating with the University of Southampton under the SPRINT programme, we have funded access to a great, specialist resource – a one stop shop for all of the expertise and facilities that we need for our product testing and validation including state-of-the-art wind tunnel testing facilities on-site, credibility from previous testings, and research expertise in inertial navigation and sensor fusion algorithms.”

Dr Martyn Prince, Senior Research Engineer in Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton added: “This multi-disciplinary approach brings together academics using Engineering techniques developed from aerodynamic testing of Olympic cyclists, with academics from Electronics and Computer Science, drawing on the expertise of Professor Eric Rogers, whose previous research on inertial navigation in space, combined with his expertise in using sensor fusion algorithms, gives him the specialised knowledge that Body Rocket requires.

“The SPRINT project funding enables us to combine our expertise and facilities developed in these different areas to support Body Rocket in their product development and validation.”