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Mercedes-Benz bionic car: automotive design meets modern art

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February 24, 2008

Mercedes-Benz bionic car

Mercedes-Benz bionic car

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February 25, 2008 One of the stand-out automotive design concepts from back in 2005 has re-emerged in the guise of modern art. With a highly-aerodynamic design based on what at first seems an unlikely candidate - the tropical sea-dwelling boxfish - the Mercedes-Benz bionic concept car is appearing as part of the "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

First unveiled in June 2005, the Mercedes-Benz bionic car is the result of a collaboration of engineers, designers and biologists working from the template of the unusual looking, but very aerodynamic Ostracion Cubicus – more commonly known as the boxfish. Apart from its aerodynamic attributes, the Boxfish can also withstand high pressures and survive unscathed following collisions with corals or other sea dwellers due to an outer skin consisting of hexagonal bone plates.

The resulting two-door, four-seater concept has a drag coefficient (cd figure) of 0.19 and delivers fuel consumption of 4.3 liters per 100 kilometers. If the US measuring system (FTP 75) is used, the figure comes in at around 70 miles per gallon (mpg, combined) – 30 percent better than a standard-production car. When driving at a constant speed of 90 km/h, the direct-injection model consumes a mere 2.8 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers – equivalent to 84 miles per gallon in the US test cycle.

The pioneering concept vehicle was also the first test car to be fitted with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology - the emission-control technology which Mercedes‑Benz calls BLUETEC that has been available for commercial vehicles since 2005 and in the E-Class 320 BLUETEC since October 2006.

The hexagonal bone plates found in the Boxfish also influenced the strong, lightweight design. In the case of a car door, for example, this honeycomb-design method increases stiffness by up to 40 percent, while the weight is reduced by around 30 percent, based on calculations using the bionic SKO (Soft Kill Option) method. The SKO method developed as part of the original project has since been used for producing components such as the engine support arms that are fitted on some rural-service buses.

Open to the public from February 24 until May 12, 2008, the "Design and the Elastic Mind" exhibition at New York's MoMA showcases trailblazing innovations in the fields of design and science.

More pics of the Bionic Car can be viewed here.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted Gizmag.com in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007.   All articles by Noel McKeegan
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