BMW Going From the Ultimate Driving Machine to the Ultimate Bobsled Designer

Nov 14 • Official News, TechnologyNo Comments

BMW AG has worked its magic in terms of aerodynamics and efficiencies with the German bobsled and luge teams in past Olympics with great success. BMWNA wants to get in on the fun as well and is working on developing the two-man bobsled for the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation to be used in future Olympic games.

Official Release: BMW of North America, the Official Mobility Partner of the United States Olympic Committee, today announced the company is developing a new two-man bobsled for use by Team USA in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. In collaboration with USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation (USBSF), BMW aims to leverage its world-class engineering and design expertise to answer longstanding equipment and innovation needs of the U.S. Bobsled Team.

Working first with USBSF to capture its deep empirical knowledge, BMW then examined the design and performance history of existing two-man sled platforms, one of which has been the default bobsled of Team USA for more than 20 years, to completely re-engineer the two-man bobsled. Similar to vehicle development, BMW EfficientDynamics have been applied to the design of the two-man sled. The company has paired intelligent lightweight materials, optimized aerodynamics and chassis dynamics to leverage the energy output of the two-man team, increasing overall sport performance.

This project was sparked by a request made by USBSF of BMW to assist the team in shoring up a technology gap specific to the innovation of the U.S. two-man sled. While Team USA achieved momentous success at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, winning a gold medal in the four-man bobsled event, the two-man Olympic gold is one that has eluded the U.S. since 1936.

“We ‘re extremely proud of what we ‘ve been able to accomplish as a team in the last 10 years, and know that we have the athletic potential to bring home more Olympic gold medals next year,” said Darrin Steele, chief executive officer of USBSF. “By bringing BMW in to provide its expertise, we see an opportunity to close an equipment gap between Team USA and countries that have historically led Olympic two-man bobsled competition.”

More than one year in development, a prototype of the BMW two-man bobsled has already been delivered to USBSF. The technology will be refined in the next year in continuance of a highly iterative development process that involves on-site immersion with USBSF athletes, coaches and engineers by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, BMW Group ‘s international design studio headquartered in California, and on-ice testing by USBSF.

“What ‘s been unique to this process is the level of collaboration by our creative team with the performance staff at USA Bobsled & Skeleton,” said Laurenz Schaffer, President, BMW Group DesignworksUSA. “The level of immersion we ‘ve been able to achieve, which included athlete interviews for preferences and improvement areas, ergonomic evaluations and optimization studies in aerodynamics, has helped us to design what we believe will be a truly improved and innovative product.”

This announcement succeeds the completion of BMW ‘s first and second technology transfer projects as part of its partnership with the USOC: a velocity measurement system for long jumpers and a motion tracking system for swimmers. All are part of BMW ‘s larger commitment to advancing the training and performance goals of the athletes of Team USA as part of a sponsorship that extends through the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“At BMW, we ‘re no strangers to sport performance characteristics such as agility, speed and aerodynamics,” said Ludwig Willisch, President and Chief Executive Officer, BMW of North America. “To be involved in a project with opportunity for such direct transfer of our core competencies to the advancement of Team USA was a very exciting proposition for us. We can ‘t wait to see this finished sled on the ice.”

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