Bees are good for a lot of things other than ruining picnics and making delicious honey. It turns out that they're good at designing car parts, too.
The idea of using forms from nature in man-made products isn't exactly new. Honeycomb, in particular, has been a favorite of race car engineers for decades and has managed to trickle down into road cars like the Corvette, with its aluminum and balsa honeycomb floor. Now, though, honeycomb is oozing its way into the trunk, thanks to Ford engineers and their newly designed "Honeycomb Shelf" cargo floor.
The Ford EcoSport tiny sporty SUV thing isn't the most thrilling thing to ever come out of Ford, but that doesn't stop it from having some genuinely clever and forward-thinking technology. The Honeycomb Shelf is made of the humblest of materials, mostly recycled cardboard and fiberglass, and can support more than 500 lbs while weighing just 6 pounds itself.
The purpose of the Honeycomb Shelf is to offer EcoSport owners a secret and secure space to put valuables without fear of them being damaged by heavy pieces of cargo. To prove the Honeycomb Shelf's strength, Ford had three well-fed beekeepers stand on it as it was suspended between two tires. In the video, you can see that it bends and bows but doesn't break.
Hopefully, we will see this kind of thinking begin to percolate into more exciting cars, bringing high strength, low weight and low cost to enthusiasts as well as plebians.