Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: BMW Teams Up With US Bobsled Team For High-Tech Sled
The U.S. Bobsled Team gets a makeover as it teams up with German-based auto manufacturing giant BMW in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Forbes reports that the bobsled, dubbed "Night Train II," features a sleeker design, a reconstructed body, and a new steering mechanism.
Michael Scully, BMW's Creative Director for Global Design told Discovery News that the partnership resulted in "a complete ground-up project." Using computer simulations and various tests, they were able to design a more aerodynamic and lighter bobsled body. In fact, its 50 pounds lighter than its predecessor.
The original design, which consisted of Kevlar and fiberglass, was replaced with an auto-clave-cooked special carbon fiber. The heating of the carbon fiber reduced its weight but made it stronger.
"Aerodynamically, the reduction of the frontal area, the silhouette it casts in the wall, was a big change," Sully said, "Also from a physics standpoint, we were trying to centralize the mass and reduce overhangs so that when a sled changes directions, the mass doesn't resist it."
BMW has supplied six of its redesigned bobsleds to the U.S. Team: three for the men's squad and another three for the women's team.
But this isn't the first time the U.S. Team will be using auto-technology for their equipment. Four years ago, NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine showed his support by helping develop the first "Night Train," which placed first in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
However, Bodine cautioned the team about using the latest technology. While referring to the other country's teams, he said, "If you beat them, they will start copying you."
It seems the NASCAR Winston Cup winner wants the U.S. Team to be on its toes when it comes to technological innovations to maintain its edge.
Aside from the bobsled team, BMW is also supporting other US Olympic athletes such as snowboarder Evan Strong and alpine skier Alana Nichols.