General Motors Patents an Adjustable Flap to Aid Aerodynamics

A recently published patent application reveals another piece of GM’s active aero puzzle. 

The filing published on June 1, 2017, details a system for the “selective control of vehicle aerodynamics,” which uses an adjustable flap that retracts and deploys in order to influence the movement of the ambient airflow in relation to the vehicle’s aerodynamic elements. The mechanism is similar to other aerodynamic patents published by the Detroit automaker earlier this year.

The variable positioning of the flap allows the car to fine tune how much downforce is generated at any given moment. Deploying the flap will interrupt airflow to the aero elements, reducing downforce, while a retracted flap will increase the amount of downforce available. It’s possible the mechanism will be configured to alter the deliverable downforce while cornering.

Like GM’s other active aerodynamic patent applications, the system will be fed data by an array of sensors which measure the state of the vehicle’s dynamic parameters, pairing information regarding ground speed and vehicle yaw rate in order to provide the optimal amount of downforce.

The patent application depicts two types of adjustable elements, a retractable splitter located under the nose, and a moveable diffuser at the car’s rear.

Additionally, the system would use a pitot tube to detect the velocity of the ambient airflow and make changes accordingly–headwinds naturally increase downforce, while tailwinds will reduce the effectiveness of aerodynamic elements.

It’s unclear when GM will use its developing active aero system on a production car but it’s a safe bet we’ll see it debut on a Corvette first, either the upcoming ZR1 or the mythical mid-engine C8 we’re expecting eventually.

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