iUP: the AI-based and smartphone-controlled hydrofoil

April 2, 2020 | Surfing
iUP: the hydrofoil that adapts to the rider's positioning | Photo: Taaroa

A Swiss company launched a new hydrofoil equipped with sensors and powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

The iUP is an equipment designed to make foiling easier than classic surfing and accessible to all.

Taarola, the company behind this innovative hydrofoil, compares the iUP to the revolution operated by drones in the surfing world, a few years back.

Actually, their key technical professionals took part in several recreational drone projects.

The engineers at Taaroa spent the last two years perfecting the heart of this next-generation foil.

The iUP is built with ease of use, control, and the upmost safety in mind.

It appears like any other hydrofoil from the outside - comparable size and weight - and can be attached to any surfboard, stand-up paddleboard (SUP), or windsurf board.

On the inside, however, everything is different.

Inspired by drone technology and aeronautics, the iUP integrates an onboard computer with control software, various sensors, and wing flaps to control the rider's balance.

This architecture enables active control of the dynamics of the foil and height above water, thanks to the moving flaps.

Considering the exponential growth of the smartphone industry, as well as the increase of demand for personal drones, sensors and onboard computers are now relatively cheap and ergonomic.

After building successfully their first prototype, Taaroa produced the iUP at a competitive price.

iUP: the hydrofoil's parameters can be set before a ride through a simple smartphone app

How Does It Work?

While cruising with the iUP, riders stand on the board as they normally would.

External factors like wind and waves or a rider's bad board positioning might create instability.

"In that case, the onboard computer will sense and compensate for the instability with the wing flaps," explains Baptist Tripard, co-founder of Taaroa.

"More specifically, the electrical actuators, which are controlled by the onboard computer, activate the control surfaces to change the foil's dynamics and stabilize it."

The onboard computer also enables very early take-offs with full flaps on (as with an aircraft at take-off) and maintains constant height between the board and the water to avoid "oscillation effects" at medium to high speed, thanks to its height control sensors.

Depending on the user's weight and level, different navigation modes are available through an app.

The parameters can be set before a ride through a simple smartphone app that's wirelessly connected to the onboard computer.

Inside the app, riders can choose the level of assistance should they want to focus more on balance or high performance.

Riders even have the ability to share their data to enhance the AI, creating a crowdsourced effect for continuous product improvement.

Who Can Ride the iUP Foil?

The AI-based foiling gear is not only aimed at beginners.

"Our idea is not to make it just easy, as there will be different navigation modes and settings, but safer and more accessible, so everyone can experience the feeling of flying with a foil," Tripard stresses.

"In short, the iUP is a foil for everyone. It has been designed for riders of all experience levels - newcomers who want to focus on the sensation of flying, and foil beginners who want to progress quickly and safely."

"Finally, experienced riders who want to push their limits and reach new heights by adding more control and power will also enjoy it."

The iUP can be used for the following disciplines: SUP foiling, surf foiling, wake foiling, wind foiling, and wing foiling.

The price will be announced when Taaroo kicks off the pre-order period.

The Swiss firm is also launching a global testing campaign for the iUP so that everyone takes part in the last phase of the foil's development program and tries it for the first time.

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