BMW developing high-tech racing wheelchair for 2016 Paralympic Games

Sketch of BMW's racing wheelchair(Credit: BMW of North America)

Besides building luxury cars and motorcycles, BMW has made some pretty impressive sports gear, including an Olympic bobsled that drove Team USA to men's bronze and women's silver and bronze medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. BMW of North America announced today that it is now focusing attention on the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games. It's reaching into its deep well of mechanical know-how to develop a racing wheelchair for the US track and field team.

The new racing chair represents BMW's fourth project in a six-year agreement with Team USA, following the bobsled and performance-tracking systems for both swimming and track and field. As in those past designs, the new project will involve adapting BMW vehicle technologies to the world of sports, and BMW will rely on its global creative consultancy Designworks in creating the new design. The California-based team will work directly with US track and field team athletes and coaches in identifying needs and solutions.

The project is still evolving, but BMW says that it will involve a complete overhaul of current racing wheelchair chassis design. The automaker will use its expertise in areas like aerodynamics, steering and braking, occupant restraint and carbon fiber construction in developing the new chair.

"Over the course of our partnership with Team USA, we have been committed to advancing athletic performance through technology transfer initiatives which help to address their training and equipment needs," says Trudy Hardy, VP of marketing for BMW of North America. "This one is special not only because it presents a unique design challenge, but it helps solve a bigger mobility challenge for our Paralympic athletes."

BMW plans to deliver the wheelchair by early 2016, giving the team time to prepare for the September start of the games, which will follow the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Source: BMW

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