BMW Developing a Wheelchair for 2016 Paralympic Games

Sketch of BMW's racing wheelchair (Credit: BMW of North America).

BMW is in the process of designing and developing a new high-tech racing wheelchair for the 2016 Paralympic games. One of their previous projects includes an Olympic bobsled that Team USA used at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The invention was a success with the women’s team winning the silver medal and the men earning bronze, which allowed team USA to overcome a 62-year medal drought.

The new high-tech racing wheelchair project was still evolving late last year. It involved a complete overhaul of the chassis design for standard racing wheelchair designs. Technicians and designers are continuing to use their expertise in occupant restraint, carbon fiber construction, steering, braking and aerodynamics to design the ultimate racing wheelchair for team USA.

BMW is relying on Designworks, its global creative consultancy partner, for the creation of the new design. The expert team is based in California and is in the process of consulting with the coaches and athletes of the US track and field team regarding essential enhancements to the design.

Trudy Hardy, VP of marketing for BMW of North America states, “Over the course of our partnership with Team USA, we have been committed to advancing athletic performance through technology transfer initiatives which help to address their training and equipment needs. This one is special not only because it presents a unique design challenge, but it helps solve a bigger mobility challenge for our paralympic athletes.”

The high-tech wheelchair design has been in development for nearly one year and work will continue until perfection is achieved. BMW is dedicated and proud of their partnership with the USOC and National Governing Bodies USA Bobsled & Skeleton, USA Swimming, USA Track & Field and U.S. Paralympics track and field. BMW of North America is committed to the training and advancement of Team USA athletes. They are honored to continue their sponsorship through the Rio 2016 Paralympic and Olympic Games.

The 2016 Paralympic Games marks the fifteenth in history. It has become an international multi-sport event for disabled athletes. It is governed by the International Paralympic Committee. These games are unique since it will be the first time in history the “summer Paralympics” will be held in a host city experience the winter season. The 2016 Paralympic Games also marks the first time a Latin American city host the event. In addition to all of the excitement, this year welcomes new sports including the paratriathlon and canoeing.

While the Designworks team put the final touches on their exquisite design, athletes are becoming excited to test out the product and start practicing. BMW has plans to deliver the completed wheelchair during the first quarter of 2016. The early 2016 delivery of the high-tech racing chair provides plenty of preparation time for athletes to become accustomed to the new invention. The Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro opening ceremony is scheduled for September 7, 2016.

Lightweight Folding Power Wheelchair from KD Smart Chair.

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