Pomelo fruit and fish scales could hold the key to more protective, lighter and cheaper motorcycle riding gear, says BMW Motorrad.
The German manufacturer has spent three years working with universities and companies such as adidas, drawing inspiration from nature to develop safety clothing and helmets for their factory workers.
It will also have applications for riders with better helmets and protective clothing and gloves.
Among their prototypes is a helmet that draws impact protection inspiration from the pomelo fruit. Despite its light rind, it does not split open when it falls from a high tree branch.
They claim the helmet would have cushioning properties 10 to 20% better than current materials.
They say potential applications include “new forms of protective equipment for motorcyclists”.
“Research models of crash helmets and protectors offering the same level of protection weighed considerably less than conventional models available on the market,” a BMW press release states.
BMW has also worked on protection gear inspired by fish and reptile scales that overlap and stiffen under load to provide protection against injury.
They are not the first to discover this.
In 2015, we reported on the findings of a Boston University engineering team working on armour based on fish, snake and even butterfly scales.
The researchers constructed scales with a 3D printer and added them to a soft impact-resistant material to create armour that has extra structural stiffening.
BMW says their prototypes designed from nature are up to 20% lighter, tougher and more stable than conventional materials.
They claim gloves and protective inserts made from bionic materials could protect workers on the assembly line from sharp-edged car-body parts. No doubt they would also protect riders.
“The low weight, breathable design and flexibility of the research models mean that movement is barely restricted,” BMW says in a press release.
Cheaper riding gear
Future BMW riding gear may not only be lighter and offer better protection, but also be cheaper. Although, BMW riding gear could never be accused of being cheap!
“They can be produced economically and processed for the intended purposes,” their release says.
“The high level of functional efficiency achieved by biologically-inspired protective equipment also saves material. This not only makes both product and production more sustainable, but also less expensive.”