Team GB Paralympic athletes turn to BMW and BAE systems to improve wheelchairs

ParalympicsGB's wheelchair athletes have turned to technology from BMW and help from BAE systems to help them get ready for the Paralympic Games in London.

BMW has collaborated with UK Sport and a range of third parties to produce wheelchairs for members of the ParalympicsGB wheelchair teams, including British basketball player Ade Orogbemi.

Where the new chair differs from previous designs is that BMW has worked with each athlete to mould the seat to their body shapes to help increase agility, straight-line speed and to allow players to right themselves quicker when the chairs get knocked over.

BMW says that the new chair has been proven to save over 10 milliseconds in a straight line speed test of 20 million in tests over the past six months.

It isn't just BMW helping out ParalympicsGB, but BAE systems as well. It has been working with athletes in the Wind Tunnel usually used to test fighter jet aerodynamics, a Eurofighter Typhoon, to enhance the aerodynamics of wheelchair racers at the Games.

Athletes were put through their paces at BAE Systems wind tunnel to help to find their optimal racing position. The wind tunnel normally used to test fighter jets at speeds of over 200mph showed how the wheelchair racers interact with the air around them, simulating racing speeds of more than 30mph.

After testing, "computational fluid dynamics data" helped the British wheelchair athletes to better understand how their body position affects wind resistance, allowing the team to improve the athletes’ seating positions as well as highlight their optimal posture for racing in different track situations.



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