Browse Publications Technical Papers 2018-37-0018
2018-05-30

Effects on the Aerodynamic Characteristics of Vehicles in Longitudinal Proximity Due to Changes in Style 2018-37-0018

The potential energy-saving benefit and reduction in emissions for road vehicles when travelling in a platoon formation arises from the possibility to achieve a reduction in the total aerodynamic drag for vehicles travelling in close proximity compared to the sum of the aerodynamic drag for the same number of vehicles when travelling alone. In the late 1980s, platooning was considered as an opportunity for fuel-saving in response to the fuel crises of the 1970s and 1980s but with particular regard to exploiting the trend of increasing traffic density on motorways (or freeways). Recent developments in advanced vehicle communication systems and the apparent enthusiasm for connected and autonomous vehicles have provided a renewed interest in proximity effects to assist in reducing energy consumption. However, the aerodynamic development processes employed by manufacturers today are designed to help meet stringent emission regulations based on the simulated driving of single vehicles. This has resulted in a trend in body styling to minimise the disturbance to the on-set flow and the size of the trailing wake. But the flow regimes around bluff bodies in close proximity are more complex than for a single vehicle and so the low-drag designs of single vehicles may not also be the optimum for drag reduction within platoon formations. The results to be shown in this paper will be drawn from early work in an on-going study which shows that platooning benefits are sensitive to style in a way that makes platoon organisation, styling and aerodynamic optimisation strategies likely to face new challenges in the future. The conclusions were deduced following tests using small-scale models in the Coventry University wind tunnel.

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