How to Optimize Automotive Aerodynamics in Days

Simulation-driven design focuses on ideation, refinement and validation.

Traditionally, aerodynamic optimizations take a lot of time. For each design alteration you must remesh, recompute and reassess the result.

But, what if you could get near instant results each time you tweak your design? With this power you could immediately assess whether an idea is a dead-end or worth investigation.

This is where ANSYS Discovery Live has you covered. Its ability to quickly simulate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) results makes simulation-driven design a faster process.

How fast? Well, the University of Utah’s Formula Racing Team (Formula U) originally used 1,600 2D simulations and a month of work to optimize the aerodynamics of their SAE race cars. Now, with Discovery Live, they can do it in days.

Discovery Live Offers Real-time Simulation-Driven Design

Formula U set out to optimize their car’s aerodynamics package (aero package). The aero package contains car parts that are added to the chassis for the sole purpose of improving aerodynamics. This includes parts like the front wing, rear wing, sidepod and undertray.

Formula U’s simulation workflow included Discovery Live, AIM and CFX/Fluent.

“The simulations were started in DesignModeler and CFX, then they were moved into Discovery Live shortly after it was unveiled,” says Luke Schoensee, aerodynamics analysis lead at Formula U. “I remember watching it and I was blown away. You don’t have to mesh and it’s instant!? You can add components, take things on and off and then snap your fingers to get a simulation?

“This wasn’t the case with DesignModeler and CFX, where you need to do more work pre-processing,” he continues. “Discovery is a great tool to start exploring ideas. Then you can make a more detailed parametric model. It allows you to explore avenues.”

Discovery Live helped Formula U quickly assess which design paths were worth a closer look and which were scrap.

Formula U made their first 1,600 2D simulations using this DesignModeler and CFX setup. However, once the team saw a presentation of Discovery Live they noticed an opportunity to quickly assess the trends that governed the design space. Using these trends, they were able to make fast simulation-driven design decisions.

Another benefit of Discovery Live is that it gave Formula U the confidence to be more inventive without the fear of breaking anything. If they wanted to test a parameter in DesignModeler and CFX, it would take time to do properly without any mistakes. However, in Discovery Live it was as easy as changing a value.

In two days, Discovery Live helped Formula U learn more about their designs than any other method at their disposal. As a result, they were able to optimize their aerodynamics package and make it to the race on time.

We invite you to learn more or take a free 30-day test drive of Discovery Live.