It's described as "the pinnacle of human flight."
In the automotive world, "electrified mobility" typically refers to cars powered by silent electric motors. These emissions-free vehicles are quickly taking over, with companies from Volkswagen to Mercedes-Benz already well on the way to a lineup that prioritizes EVs.
BMW is on a similar path, having recently launched the iX3, although the brand has just shared a project that takes the concept of "electrified mobility" to new heights - quite literally. Joining forces with wingsuit pilot Peter Salzmann, BMW's i engineers and Designworks have created a real electrified wingsuit. The reveal of the suit formed part of BMW's build-up to the company's #NEXTGen 2020 event.
Austrian Salzmann has been obsessed with flying since he was a child, first by jumping off the roof onto mattresses below as a child and then, eventually, becoming a professional stuntman, base jumper, and skydiver.
These exploits preceded his journey into wingsuiting, which he describes as "the pinnacle of human flight," but with a desire to stay in the air for a longer time than a non-powered wingsuit would allow for, he wanted more. Deciding that an electrified suit could be a solution, he turned to BMW i to help his vision come to life. Looking like something out of a Mission Impossible movie, Salzmann jumps out of a helicopter to put the electrified wingsuit to the test.
Two carbon propellers - or impellers - deliver a total power output of 15 kW which is available for a period of five minutes. After descending to the appropriate height, the propellers are activated, allowing Salzmann to extend his mid-air heroics. In case you're wondering, the wingsuit allowed Salzmann to reach flight speeds in excess of 186 mph, which is enough to leave a BMW M5 behind as the sedan is limited to a top speed of 155 mph.
The final electrified wingsuit took three years to develop, including extensive testing in a wind tunnel at the BMW Group Aerodynamics Testing Center in Munich. The end result is an astounding achievement. Who needs a flying car after all?