BMW is using fruit to develop new ways to protect your melon. The company is taking inspiration from nature to develop what they call Bio-Inspired Safety Systems (BISS). The first uses the pomelo fruit to make a better helmet.
BMW, working with seven partners including Adidas, and the Plant Biomechanics Group of the University of Freiburg, have spent three years doing R&D on the design and material concepts for the project.
The pomelo was chosen because it has the ability to fall from a high tree without splitting open. It stays undamaged inside, but the rind is very light. Figuring out how the grapefruit-like fruit could do that lead to better impact protection and cushioning. Other sources of inspiration include alligators and fish. An alligator’s armour works to transmit force over a larger area, and a fish’s scales link to prevent penetration.
The group analysed tissue formation, cell structure, and the function of the organic protection, and explored how they could be manufactured. They then needed to sort out the functions into crash protection, penetration resistance, and damping.
BMW said that prototypes made from their natural models were 20 percent lighter, tougher, and more stable than protective measures used today. They also use less material, making them safer and cheaper.
BMW wanted protective gloves and inserts to protect assembly line workers from sharp edges. The new materials do that without restricting movement. Motorcycle jackets could use the same tech to better protect riders while being easier to wear.
Sporting goods manufacturer Uvex has used it to develop new ski and cycle helmets. The new designs have better cushioning and better protect your head. They can also use the armour and fish scale designs for better chest and knee protection when athletes crash.