Row-Bots Rowing Down the River

Robots Rowing
Rowing Down the River with Row-Bot 
Researchers from the Laboratory of Hydrodynamics at France's Ecole Polytechnique in Paris have used a crew of robots to determine how rowing teams could row more efficiently.  Rowing teams row in time and in sync with each other. That's thought to create the fastest possible glide to the finish line.  The robot team has put that into question.

Different Strokes
The robot team can up with different strokes.  8 robots rowed a racing shell.  When they rowed in tandem it resulted in significant acceleration and deceleration.  Between team strokes the deceleration was 20%.  Out of sync rowing resulted in much better times.  There's 5% less friction on the boat's hull and the speed variance is just 2% as opposed to 12% with in-sync rowing.

Human Weight Factor
The robotic research uncovered another factor.  The force of the human rowers' weight pushing forward also propelled and accelerated the boat when they rowed in-sync.  Not as much acceleration from their combined weight when they didn't row in-sync.  So an in-sync human rowing team has good odds of outmatching an out-of-sync robotic team.

Cambridge University Robots In Shells
Not to be outdone by the French, the British have put robots on the river too.  Engineers at Cambridge University have developed a row-bot that paces their rowing team. Wonder if robots are going to qualify for The Henley and Charles Regattas.