Sensor warns of boat’s breaking point

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A new fiber Bragg grating sensor system that measures the forces acting on a boat’s sail could help to detect weak points in time to warn yachtsmen when a boat has reached its breaking point, according to a report by the technology publication Photronics.com.

Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute in Germany have developed “nerves of glass” sensor technology that can measure the forces that act on hulls, masts and sails to detect points of weakness on yachts.

The technology originally was created to monitor wind turbines, where rotor blades and cables are exposed to high loads.

“With fiber optic sensors, we can detect delaminations and even cracks at any early stage — long before a part breaks or fails,” said professor Wolfgang Schade. “All you need is a fiber optic cable, in which dozens of sensors can be fitted.”

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