Photo in the News: "Bionic" Car Fueled by Fishy Ideas

Picture: Mercedes-Benz bionic car
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June 15, 2005—Lots of cars have been named after creatures of the sea, from the Corvette Stingray to the Plymouth Barracuda. But Mercedes-Benz's new Bionic Car was actually made to look like one. At a DaimlerChrysler car exposition last week in Washington, D.C., the automaker unveiled the concept vehicle, whose sloping nose and trim silhouette were modeled directly after the small tropical boxfish (inset).

Engineers patterned the vehicle on the boxfish's unique features, mimicking the fish's streamlined profile to improve the car's aerodynamics, while adopting the animal's boxy frame to increase strength and stability. Drawing on biology to develop new technology—a concept known as bionics—enabled the designers to create a diesel-powered prototype that can achieve speeds of up to 118 miles an hour (190 kilometers an hour) and boasts fuel economy of 70 miles a gallon (30 kilometers per liter).

Boxfish, also known as trunkfish or cowfish, can be found in warm ocean waters, where they linger near the seafloor to hunt for burrowing invertebrates. The fish are easily identified by their distinctive profiles as well as by the bonelike, six-sided plates that cover much of their bodies and help protect them from predators.

Acknowledging the fish as the inspiration for the Bionic Car, Mercedes-Benz issued a statement calling the boxfish "a prime example of the ingenious inventions developed by nature over millions of years of evolution."

—Blake de Pastino

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