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I'm Achille. I'm still a student, but I connected the sailboat Spirit of Saint-Malo to the rest of the world!

13 Nov 2018
Route du Rhum

This year, students, engineers and researchers seized the opportunity of the Route du Rhum ocean race to carry out two technological experiments. Orange.jobs met Achille Penet, a student at the Ecole Supérieure d’Ingénieurs de Rennes (ESIR), who told us about his experience in setting up the Objets Connectés experiment on the Spirit of Saint-Malo sailboat, skippered by Sébastien Desquesses.

Achille, why did you take part in this experimental project with Orange?

Orange’s project was just in time for me. I was starting a final internship at Orange Labs in Rennes and my supervisor Jean-François Pellet simply offered me the opportunity to work with him on the Objets Connectés project on the Spirit of Saint-Malo sailboat. Orange always offers projects to students as part of their university curriculum. This makes the job very concrete. We were responsible for delivering a solution that would work after several months of development with very skilled engineers. Besides, I do a lot of sailing. I could combine my passion for the ocean with my engineering studies, which was great! The Route du Rhum is a mythical race, the stuff of dreams.

Can you describe to us in concrete terms this experiment with Orange engineers?

We installed a sensor system – about fifteen in total – on the boat to allow the general public to follow the race from a website and a chatbot. Sébastien Desquesses, the skipper, also wore a connected watch throughout the race, to collect data on his physical condition. The transmission of the data was optimised thanks to the connection of our server to the boat’s satellite box. To handle the regular disconnections and the slow bitrate (128 kbit/second), we used Orange Business Services’ Flexible Engine cloud solution, which stores and synchronises data in the Orange Cloud. The transmission of the message is maintained even during downtime thanks to a system of caches. The computer collects all the data on the boat’s operation (speed, air temperature, etc.) and Sébastien’s physical condition (heart rate, sleep cycle, etc.). Through an API, the data is selected and made accessible to everyone via a web platform and a chatbot

What was it like working on this with the Orange team?

It was the first time I worked on such a long project. I was involved in this experiment for three years. The first two years, I spent one day a week on this technological experiment. 2018 was an essential year for me because it was the end of my university course, which concluded with a six-month internship. This allowed me to focus 100% on the project! There was a real purpose: I contributed to an actual industrial project. In the end, the system had to work: even though there were many unknowns throughout the experiment, we had to move forward in any case. This made it very motivating to look for solutions, test them, start again if necessary, and check that it works. Actually, this project made me grow. Even though I stayed ashore, in a way – at my level – I was part of the adventure of the 40th Route du Rhum.

On the picture from top to bottom: Sébastien Desquesses et Achille Penet.(All rights reserved)