The company is also looking at how to apply this protective material to gear for motorcyclists.

The pomelo is a large citrus fruit, somewhat like a grapefruit, and the structure of its thick rind provides great impact protection when they fall off  the tree. BMW, along with a group of German companies and universities, have taken inspiration from nature’s design for new protective gear as part of the Bio-Inspired Safety Systems project.

BMW Fruit Protection


The pomelo’s rind is especially good at impact absorption because it is an auxetic material. This means that when the stuff stretches the substance becomes thicker. The project also examined the scales of fish and alligators for their protective qualities.

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By looking at nature, the researchers in this project copied these structures to create foams and composite textiles. They then applied these to prototype safety equipment, like gloves and protective inserts, that was 20 percent lighter, tougher, and more stable than current materials. The work also resulted in bizarre photos like the ones in the gallery.

BMW is first considering how to implement this new safety equipment for workers in its factories, but the firm sees ways to bring the material to market, too. Since the stuff is breathable and offers flexibility, there could be applications in gear for motorcyclists. For example, a prototype helmet has the same level of head protection but weighs less than current models.

For greater rider protection, BMW partnered with Alpinestars last year on a motorcycle jacket with an advanced internal airbag. The coat would inflate to protect the rider's back, kidneys, chest and shoulders in a crash, and it doesn't require any extra sensors on the motorcycle to know when to deploy.

The company also demoed a prototype helmet at CES in 2016 with an internal head-up display. As opposed to needing to look down, info like the speedometer, navigation data, and fuel consumption remained constantly in the rider's vision.

Source: BMW

 

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