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Updated Automatically on April 13th, 2010
better gas mileage

By analyzing how the boxfish swims and mimicing its aerodynamics, Mercedes has built a concept car that gets a combined 70 MPG. And at a constant 55 MPH it gets about 84 MPG!

They call it a “bionic” car because it applies the structures and principles found in nature to mechanical systems. In this case, Mercedes noticed that the yellow boxfish is a surprisingly quick and nimble swimmer, despite having what appears to be a very ungainly body shape. They studied the shape of the boxfish and applied it to a concept car. The result was a car that has very low wind drag, lots of interior room, and very low fuel consumption.

Using a 140hp diesel engine, the bionic car gets a combined highway/city mileage of 70 MPG. When driven at a constant 55 MPH, though, the fuel economy jumps up to 84 MPG. It zips from zero to 100km/h (62 MPH) in only 8.2 seconds and has a maximum speed of about 118 MPH. The engine uses Mercedes’ BlueTec system, which is expected to show up in some upcoming Mercedes production models.

Mercedes not only copied the aerodynamic design of the boxfish, they also looked to the fish for construction ideas. Nature likes to make things that have maximum strength with minimum weight, and the boxfish follows those laws. Mercedes applied some of the structural principles of the boxfish to the construction of the car and the result was a lightweight, but strong car.

For now the bionic car is just a prototype concept vehicle. The photos of the car show it to be slightly reminiscent of the styling of some current hybrid cars, so it could have appeal to a mass audience if Mercedes were to make it a production car. Let’s hope that this doesn’t end up being a one-off concept vehicle that never makes it to production.

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Updated Automatically on April 13th, 2010
better gas mileage

5 Responses to “70 MPG Bionic Car!”

    How funny. *These* studies really “analyze” how boxfish swim. How interesting that Mercedes claims it came up with the results on their own when biologists spent years and lots of money, sweat, and tears doing this years earlier. This in a time where research funds are limited, and Mercedes takes all the credit.

    Bartol, I.K., Gharib, M., Webb, P.W., Weihs, D. & Gordon, M.S. 2005
    Body-induced vortical flows: a common mechanism for self-corrective trimming control in boxfishes. J Exp Biol 208, 327-344.

    Bartol, I.K., Gharib, M., Weihs, D., Webb, P.W., Hove, J.R. & Gor- don, M.S. 2003 Hydrodynamic stability of swimming in ostraciid fishes: role of the carapace in the smooth trunkfish Lactophrys triqueter (Teleostei: Ostraciidae). J Exp Biol 206, 725-744.

    Bartol, I.K., Gordon, M.S., Gharib, M., Hove, J.R., Webb, P.W. & Weihs, D. 2002 Flow patterns around the carapaces of rigid-bodied, multi-propulsor boxfishes (Teleostei: Ostraciidae). Integ Comp Biol 42, 971-980.

    Gordon, M.S., Hove, J.R., Webb, P.W. & Weihs, D. 2000 Boxfishes as
    unusually well-controlled autonomous underwater vehicles. Physiol and Biochem 1197 Zool 73(6), 663-671.

    Hove, J.R., O’Bryan, L.M., Gordon, M.S., Webb, P.W. & Weihs, D. 2001 Boxfishes (Teleostei: Ostraciidae) as a model system for fishes swimming with many fins: kinematics. J Exp Biol 204, 1459-1471.

    The smart car was reported to get 70 mpg and now that it’s available
    for puchase it gets 41 what is that about?

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