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New Car's Skin Is Fabric

The Gina cloth-covered car is a prototype vehicle from BMW that is covered with fabric rather than metal. Like a living animal, its skin wrinkles a bit when elements are extended (like opening the doors).

The shape of the skin can be altered by the car's owner; it is stretched across flexible metal wires attached to the frame that can be moved with hydraulics.

The fabric itself is a silver expansion-resistant textile that is form-fitted to the car's structure. "The high-precision fit of the material to the metal mesh also allows surface changes without slackening the tension," a spokesman said.

I can't think of a cloth-covered car in science fiction; readers may have a reference. However, I think that sf writers could suggest some improvements on the fabric skin.

For example, I think you'd want to have a car skin that kept itself clean; impregnating the cloth with fabricules from Stephenson's The Diamond Age would give you a car that never needed to be washed. A Self-Cleaning Fabric With Polymer Film Sprinkled With Silver Nanoparticles demonstrates how scientists are working on this kind of fabric.

I think everyone would like to cover their car with Zetix Blast Resistant Fabric, which is a real-life analog to the super suits of comic book characters.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of Technovelgy.com)

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.