Nature-inspired: Mercedes-Benz created the bionic car in 1995

Mercedes-Benz bionic car.
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As science-fiction as it may sound, Mercedes-Benz took a closer look at bionics in the ’90s and explored new ways of looking at automobiles. And that’s how the bionic car was created.

As you probably all know, bionics is a scientific branch which combines biology and technics. However, Mercedes-Benz wanted to see how can this be used for automotive development and therefore created the bionic car.

Basically, the engineers looked for solutions in the nature, as they had to develop an automobile that would be aerodynamically efficient, safe and comfortable not just in detail features but also in its overall shape and structure.

Their search led them to the yellow boxfish, a marine fish that lives in coral reefs. Mercedes-Benz decided to model the bionic car after this fish because of the low drag coefficient of its body shape and the rigidity of its exoskeleton. Moreover, on a model representing a true copy of the boxfish body, the engineers measured a drag coefficient (Cd) as low as 0.06.

The next step was building the bionic car, a fully operational and ready-to-drive compact car with a length of 4.24 metres. Inside, it offered space for four people plus their luggage, while on the outside, the Cd value of 0.19 made it one of the aerodinamically most efficient vehicles in its size range.

Under the hood the engineers placed a turbodiesel engine with common rail direct injection capable of producing 140 hp at the cost of just 4.3 litres of fuel per 100 km, thanks to a new Selective Catalytic Reduction technology.

Regarding the body structure, Mercedes-Benz opted for computer simulation for dimensioning the body and chassis components. This means that the material is made ever thinner and finally cut away completely in low-load areas, while high-stressed ares are reinforced. In addition, the overall weight is reduced by 30%, which also improves the fuel economy.