When the US Bobsled Team hits the ice at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, they’ll be doing it in a BMW. The team hasn’t won a gold medal in two-man bobsledding since 1936, so the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation (USBSF) asked the automaker to design them a faster sled – and it did just that.
BMW's DesignworksUSA group started by hitting the USBSF up for its own input on what it would like to see in a sled, plus it looked into the history and design of existing two-man sleds. It then spent over a year designing the new sled, applying its BMW EfficientDynamics principles – which are usually used for designing lighter, faster, more fuel-efficient cars – to the task.
The resulting prototype is said to combine “lightweight materials, optimized aerodynamics and chassis dynamics to leverage the energy output of the two-man team, increasing overall sport performance.” Michael Scully, Creative Director of Design at DesignworksUSA, told us “In concert with the extensive regulatory requirements which define a bobsled, our shape is dedicated to optimized aerodynamic flow characteristics not only in regions of critical drag-inducing elements of the sled, but also the athletes themselves.”
The prototype has been delivered to the USBSF, where the BMW engineers will continue to refine the design in collaboration with athletes and coaches, via on-ice testing.
Once complete, the new sled will replace a model that has been used by the US Bobsled Team for over 20 years.