New car was inspired by fish


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A revolutionary car inspired by the shape of a boxfish is going on show in the UK for the first time next week.

The concept car, which was produced by DaimlerChrysler, is in the country for the Environmentally Friendly Vehicles Conference and is going on display at DaimlerChrysler's offices in Milton Keynes on Wednesday November 9th.

The "bionic" car was produced by a team of designers who looked at nature for their inspiration and based the shape of the vehicle upon the Ostracion boxfish.

DaimlerChrysler told Practical Fishkeeping: "Designers have taken their inspiration from nature and looked at the way body shapes of fish have evolved in order to swim efficiently.

"The car is highly efficient in terms of weight and therefore fuel consumption. It's aerodynamic and revolutionary body shell makes it extremely strong and it's eco credentials in terms of emissions are up to 99% less than regular cars."

Why boxfish?Although boxfish may not seem particularly streamlined, recent research reported by PFK has shown that the rigid, boxy shape of the fishes does have some unique properties when it comes to streamlining.

The Yellow boxfish, Ostracion cubicus, formed the basis of the car's design.

A study of three boxfish species by a team of scientists from the Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, showed that the shape of the fish was responsible for producing swirly flow patterns called leading-edge vortices (LEVs) capable of generating self-correcting trimming forces during swimming.

The LEVs grew in circulation along the length of the fishes' bodies, something other scientists have also found on delta-winged aircraft.

DaimlerChrysler says the results are impressive, despite the angular structure of the fish: "When exposed to an open flow, this streamlined shape has a Cd value of 0.04. Using computer calculations and wind tunnel tests with an accurate model of the boxfish, the Mercedes engineers achieved a value which came very close to this ideal, namely 0.06 - an outstanding result. It explains why the boxfish is such a good swimmer and is so manoeuvrable with minimal effort."

The boxfish shaped car is highly efficient and eco-friendly.

The DaimlerChrysler team created a 1:4 scale model car with a shape very similar to that of the boxfish during the test phase.

Says DaimlerChrysler: "The angular outside contours of the living model were adapted in the area of the roof and side skirts, as was the prominent, descending rear end with its heavily scalloped sides and pronounced wedge shape.

"In doing this they were disobeying important principles in automotive aerodynamics, and were all the more surprised at the results: the Cd value for the car was 0.095. In aerodynamic terms it was just as good as the shape as measured on the ground considered ideal by aerodynamics specialists (Cd 0.09).

"The research model in the shape of a boxfish betters the drag coefficient of today's compact cars by more than 65 percent."