Recently, German automaker BMW released a demonstration video of one of its latest innovations. It is an electric propulsion system that has allowed a wingsuit practitioner to gain altitude and reach a speed of 300 km / h.
A unique electric propulsion system of Wingsuit Flying
Without a doubt, the wingsuit is the craziest of extreme sports! Very popular for about twenty years, this sport consists of flying using a winged suit. This flexible combination has ends allowing an increase in the lift, as well as a reduction in vertical speed, changed to horizontal speed. As spectacular as it is dangerous, the wingsuit involves falling to regain speed and perform acrobatics on the way up.
As evidenced by a blog post published on November 6, 2020, the manufacturer BWM (or rather the studio BMW Designworks) has taken an interest in this sport. In collaboration with wingsuit pilot Peter Salzmann, the engineers have developed a completely new electric propulsion system. Placed on the pilot’s chest, it has two 13 cm rotors (20,000 revolutions per minute). Also, flight autonomy is five minutes.
Very conclusive tests
The pilot can use a remote control to start the propulsion. A regulator also makes it possible to obtain the necessary power. The pilot can also vary the velocity of one of the two motors to change direction easily. However, the weak point of the system is none other than its weight. Indeed, it takes a significant amount of energy to be able to maneuver this unorthodox wingsuit. The additional mass means that the smoothness of the flight is less important. Every three meters traveled, the wingsuit loses one meter in altitude. However, the speed exceeds 100 km / h and can even reach 300 km / h at full throttle. For the pilot, this ability makes it quite easy to gain altitude.
Flying a Wingsuit
Peter Salzmann and BMW Designworks carried out several wind tunnel tests and around 30 in real conditions. As for the last test (see video at the end of the article), the team went to the Hohe Tauern massif in Austria, in the central-eastern Alps. The pilot jumped from a helicopter at an altitude of approximately 3000 meters. This one was accompanied by several other classic wingsuits as a reference.
Unlike some devices like the jetpack, the BMW Designworks system could be marketed on a large scale. Indeed, its manufacture is inexpensive due to the simplicity of its technology.