BMW has developed a two-man bobsled in partnership with the German Bobsleigh, Luge, and Skeleton Federation (BSD).

The sled concept was developed using computer simulations and verified in the BMW Aerodynamic and Research Centre.

Additional optimisation potential for the prototype will be identified during further tests in the coming weeks and will feed into the design of a new sled.

The goal is to use the bobsled in the coming 2019/2020 World Cup season.

At the end of a development and test phase that lasted 10 months, the BMW prototype passed its baptism of fire with flying colours.

With double Olympic champion Francesco Friedrich, world champion Johannes Lochner and junior world champion Christoph Hafer on the steering handles, run times at Königssee and on the demanding track in Altenberg were within a few tenths of a second of the current World Cup bob.

A measuring system provided by BMW Motorsport and modified for bobsleds evaluated and compared all of the rides.

Friedrich’s impressions were extremely positive.

“It’s fascinating: BMW takes something on, and at the first attempt it is really very good,” he said.

“So many companies have already tried to build a sled, which was then mothballed after three days.

“In contrast, the BMW prototype has already come a long way. The bob runs really well and you can steer it precisely.

“The BMW engineers work very meticulously and with a lot of passion to make sure it is as fast as or faster than the others.”

Initially, the design was developed exclusively using computer simulations with the aerodynamics optimised using the “computational fluid dynamics (CFD)” numerical method.

Around 10,000 different forms were calculated, including “digitalised athlete dummies.”

To develop sporting equipment with the ideal ergonomics for the various BSD drivers and crewmen, the athletes were scanned, and their body dimensions were incorporated into calculations.

The design developed this way, considering aerodynamic and ergonomic aspects was initially milled as a foam model and the values calculated on the computer were verified in the BMW Group Aerodynamic Test Centre and optimised in line with the analysis results obtained.

This form was manufactured using carbon to ensure reproducibility.

The cutting of the individual carbon layers was computer-controlled, and these carbon layers were placed such that the sled is able to absorb the huge G forces in the ice track optimally.

Then, the model was baked in an autoclave at 175 degrees.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.