An investigation of aerodynamic effects of body morphing for passenger cars in close-proximity

Geoffrey Le Good, Max Resnick, Peter Boardman, Brian Clough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
137 Downloads (Pure)


The potential energy-saving benefit for vehicles when travelling in a ‘platoon’ formation results from the reduction in total aerodynamic drag which may result from the interaction of bluff bodies in close-proximity. Early investigations of platooning, prompted by problems of congestion, had shown the potential for drag reduction but was not pursued. More recently, technologies developed for connected-autonomous vehicle control have provided a renewed interest in platooning particularly within the commercial vehicle industry. To date, most aerodynamics-based considerations of platooning have been conducted to assess the sensitivity of drag-saving to vehicle spacing and were based on formations of identically shaped constituents. In this study, the interest was the sensitivity of drag-saving to the shape of the individual platoon constituents. A new reference car, the Resnick model, was specially designed to include front and rear-end add-on sections to make distinct changes in profile form and simulate large-scale body morphing. The results of wind tunnel tests on small-scale models suggested that current trends in low-drag styling may not provide the ideal shape for platoon constituent members and that optimised forms are likely to be dependent upon position in the platoon.

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Funding Information:
Amongst the supporting technologies for platooning which were being considered at the time of the research by Zabat et al., included the provision of dedicated lanes for the use of platoon formations, the vehicle-to-vehicle control systems to maintain optimum spacing for safety and aerodynamic performance. The early work was not developed to provide working schemes, but the rapid development of technologies associated with autonomous driving systems has provided an opportunity for “platooning” to be reconsidered. An example of the renewed interest was illustrated by the three-year SATRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project [11–14] of 2009–12 funded by the European Commission. This work was essentially an off-shoot from on-going considerations of the adoption of connected and autonomous driving systems as a perceived technology to help improve road safety. The project output included the publication of technical papers and general-interest stories to the wider public and media. Further funded research and government incentives in a number of countries towards the development of autonomous driving capability has also helped to continue the interest in the potential for the associated control systems to help realise the environmental potential of safe platooning as a means of reducing energy consumption and harmful emissions which, along with safety, remains a key objective of governments world-wide.

Funding Information:
The work described in this paper was funded by a Coventry University internal grant competition as part of the National Transport Design Centre launch activities.


  • Aerodynamic drag
  • Close-proximity
  • Passenger cars
  • Platooning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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