World’s first electric wingsuit has taken flight with BMW. The wingsuit can be powered by renewable energy, similar to the BMW I brand, which is the automaker’s line of completely electric cars.
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Peter Salzmann, a professional base jumper and air sportsman, successfully completed the world’s first human flight propelled by an electric wingsuit in November after jumping from a helicopter at a height of 3,000 metres.
Salzmann was able to acquire altitude and soared above the “Three Brothers” mountain top in Austria, thanks to the suit’s two 13cm carbon impellers with a combined output of 15kw.
The suit hit a top speed of 186 miles per hour mid-flight. The “electrified wingsuit” will open up fantastic new possibilities for daredevil airsports and “Pay for Peril” adventure tourism – for a sport that traditionally celebrates high horizontal speeds of around 60 mph.
“At the time, I was developing suits for skydiving and basejumping with a friend and basejumping mentor,” Salzmann tells BMW. “One of them was a supporting motor – and it’s an idea I just couldn’t shake. I found the idea of being able to jump from my local mountain wearing the wingsuit and land in my garden fascinating.”
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Salzmann pitched the idea to BMW, and the company started to work in 2017, developing a suit that was both agile and powerful enough to climb mountains.
“Our future-oriented approach with electric propulsion systems and innovative materials and technologies were a perfect fit for Peter Salzmann’s unusual but fascinating idea,” says Stefan Ponikva, vice-president of brand experience at BMW, of the brand’s decision to partner with Salzmann.
“In my opinion, Peter Salzmann perfectly embodies the attitude of the BMW i brand with his unique vision, his passion and his courage. I was also very impressed by his physical effort, combined with in-depth technical knowledge and a very clear understanding of the brand,” Ponikva adds.
The final design, which resembles “a futuristic mini-submarine,” is built of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum and features a thumb and finger-operated throttle on the left sleeve. A 50V lithium battery linked to the suit’s chestplate powers the electric propulsion system, which can create thrust for up to 15 minutes.
The wingsuit can be powered by renewable energy, similar to the BMW I brand, which is the automaker’s line of completely electric cars.
“Sustainability is very important to me, and something I try to live my everyday life by. I enjoy nature from the air and on the ground – that’s why I aim to consistently follow the path of sustainability even when it comes to mobility,” Salzmann tells BMW.
BMW’s AEROLAB horizontal wind tunnel and a vertical wind tunnel in Sweden were used to test the suit. An old design prototype with 40% more power output was abandoned in favour of a lighter design with better mobility.
The electric wingsuit was supposed to debut in South Korea in spring 2020, but the pandemic forced them to postpone their plans. The Drei Brüder, or “Three Brothers,” peaks in Austria’s Hohe Tauern mountain range were chosen as a replacement location since they are close to Salzmann’s childhood home.
BMW’s #NEXTGen 2020 series, which showcases new technology and vehicles that imagine next-generation mobility, made its debut on the suit’s first voyage.
Salzmann underwent specialised training to strengthen his core, neck, and shoulder muscles so that he could stay in the proper position for the duration of the flight. Salzmann has already set his sights on new objectives, including flying between high-rise buildings in South Korea, after completing his first trip.
“Flying is freedom. It’s the ultimate expression of striving for the unknown and discovering new horizons,” says Salzmann
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