The 2016 Paralympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil between Sept 7th to the 18th. BMW has announced that they will be building 6 custom racing wheelchairs to start, one for each member of the U.S. team. This is quite unusual for a car company, even though BMW designed a two-man bobsled for the U.S. Olympic team to use in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The bobsled helped the U.S. overcome a 62-year medal drought at Sochi.
The wheelchairs are being made by BMW's Designworks Group.
Each seat will be custom made for each racer, and the gloves to go with the wheelchairs will also be custom made from a 3D printer. 3D scanners are being used to custom fit these new chairs and gloves to each racer. The chair will also be made out of carbon fiber which is a lot lighter and stronger than aluminum chairs.
The Olympians will be able to test out just how fast these new chairs are, before they debut at the Rio Paralympics in September 2016.
The racers are anxious and excited to try the new piece of equipment. Josh George, a former gold medalist in the 100 meters, seemed excited at the prospect of receiving it, but not only because it will help him with his craft.
“It’s the coolest-looking piece of equipment I’ve ever seen,” he said of the new design.
He also said, “If I’m pushing the BMW and other racers are pushing aluminum frames, I’m going to be able to go the same speed as them with less energy exerted,” George said. “That means at the end of a race, the last 5K, the last 10K, I’m going to have more in the tank than they are.”