BMW and the Paralympics
BMW, a company whose cars are loved all over the world are transforming into more than just an automotive company. They have reiterated this point on many occasions and recently, they have proved this by helping Team USA in an Olympic competition.
Previously, BMW were involved in a project for Team USA in the creation of bobsleighs for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The result of BMW’s involvement with Team USA resulted in the collection of a silver medal and three bronzes, so their innovative engineering clearly works.
But, for the 2016 Paralympics, BMW are involved in a completely different engineering feat. So, for the Rio de Janeiro based competition, the German automotive outfit have been working on a new wheelchair design for the best part of a year now.
The wheelchairs that have previously been used are made of welded aluminium and are generally mass produced. There are regulations for the wheel chair that need to be adhered to before BMW began creating the Paralympics wheelchairs. The chairs must be hand-cranked and, there must only be mechanically engaged braking. Other than that, companies are free to choose what materials and designs they fancy.
So what have BMW done differently? Well, BMW have started by changing the material that the wheelchairs are made from. The swap from aluminium to carbon fibre will certainly shear off a lot of unwanted weight. It is amazing that this hasn’t been done before really. BMW have also modified the shape of the wheelchair, added personalised gloves for each athlete and have created a new ‘skin’, like a bullet, to ensure better aerodynamics. In essence, BMW, from their Designworks team in California, have attempted to ‘make the wheelchair disappear so it’s just the athletes left.’ It looks as if this is actually starting to become reality as BMW have already shaved 15% off the drag.
BMW are an inventive company that are breaching out from the automotive world. But it must be remembered that all designs undertaken by BMW will swing around full circle. The Paralympic wheelchair design may help BMW’s car divisions, it always happens.
We hope that the wheelchairs designed by BMW bring Team USA good luck…