Airflow over/under/around a vehicle can affect many important aspects of vehicle performance including vehicle drag (fuel economy) and cooling/heat exchange for the vehicle powertrain and A/C systems. Devices in current use to control airflow, with the exception of a few active spoilers, are of fixed geometry, orientation, and stiffness. Such devices can thus not be relocated, reoriented, etc. as driving conditions change and thus vehicle airflow cannot be adjusted to better suit the changed driving condition. Additionally, under-vehicle airflow control devices also reduce ground clearance presenting a challenge to designers to provide the needed control of airflow while maintaining sufficient ground clearance. The collaborative study, whose second part is documented in this paper, was successful in developing an SMA
actuator based approach to reversibly deploying an air dam through vertical translation of its structure. Beyond feasibility, vehicle mounted prototype fully functional units demonstrated that this approach would add little weight to the existing stationary system, and could potentially perform well in the harsh under vehicle environment due to a lack of exposed bearings and pivots. This demonstration showed that actuation speed, force, and cyclic stability all could meet the application requirements. The solution, a dual point balanced actuation approach based on shape memory alloy wires, uses straight linear actuation to produce a reversible height change of 50 mm. On vehicle wind tunnel and onroad tests verified the potential for a reversibly deployable air dam to meet the otherwise conflicting goals of large ground clearance for off-road performance and optimum lower ground clearance for optimum fuel economy benefits.