BMW aids U.S. sledders
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 USBSF request for help in closing 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." By Joseph Szczesny