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Title:
VEHICLE COMPRISING A STABILISER DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/161495
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A vehicle (30) comprises a vehicle body (32) and a stabiliser device (34) for reducing fluid- dynamic drag of the vehicle (30), wherein the stabiliser device (34) is arranged on a lateral surface of the vehicle body (32), and wherein the stabiliser device (34) includes a stabiliser member (36), a shape profile of the stabiliser member (36) including a rounded leading portion and a trailing portion fluid-dynamically shaped to reduce fluid-dynamic drag along the lateral surface of the vehicle body (32).

Inventors:
SHAZAD ADIL (GB)
Application Number:
GB2020/050270
Publication Date:
August 13, 2020
Filing Date:
February 06, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SHAZAD ADIL (GB)
International Classes:
B62D35/00; B60R1/00; B60R1/12; B60R11/04; B62D37/00; B62D37/02; B64C21/00; B64C23/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2018216434A12018-11-29
Foreign References:
DE102016107221A12017-10-19
US20170088198A12017-03-30
US20120255152A12012-10-11
EP2692585A12014-02-05
EP3396937A12018-10-31
Other References:
CHRIS PAUKERT: "Lexus ES Digital Outer Mirrors to be a world first", ROADSHOW, 12 September 2018 (2018-09-12), XP055681515, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20200331]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TENG, Jason (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 A vehicle comprising a vehicle body and a stabiliser device for reducing fluid- dynamic drag of the vehicle, wherein the stabiliser device is arranged on a lateral surface of the vehicle body, and wherein the stabiliser device includes a stabiliser member, a shape profile of the stabiliser member including a rounded leading portion and a trailing portion fluid-dynamically shaped to reduce fluid-dynamic drag along the lateral surface of the vehicle body. 2. A vehicle according to Claim 1 wherein the rounded leading portion is a spherical or parabolical leading portion.

3. A vehicle according to Claim 1 or Claim 2 wherein the shape profile of the stabiliser member further includes a flat nose section at a distal end of the leading portion away from the trailing portion.

4. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the trailing portion is tapered in a direction away from the leading portion. 5. A vehicle according to Claim 4 wherein the leading and trailing portions are fluid- dynamically shaped to define a teardrop shape profile of the stabiliser member.

6. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the trailing portion includes a tail section at a distal end away from the leading portion, and the tail section has a planar or ducktail shape.

7. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the trailing portion includes a tail section at a distal end away from the leading portion, and an indentation is formed at a distal edge of the tail section.

8. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser member includes a first fin arranged underneath the leading portion and oriented along a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body. 9. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser member includes a second fin arranged underneath the trailing portion and oriented along a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body.

10. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser member includes:

a third fin arranged underneath the leading portion and/or the trailing portion, the third fin oriented along a plane that is tilted relative to a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body; and/or

a fourth fin arranged underneath the leading portion and/or the trailing portion, the fourth fin oriented along a plane that is tilted relative to a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body, the fourth fin attached to the leading portion and/or the trailing portion via an attachment limb that is oriented along a vertical plane with respect to the vehicle body.

11. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser device is arranged:

• at or towards the middle of the lateral surface of the vehicle body; and/or

• adjacent a door of the vehicle body, or on the door of the vehicle body, or between neighbouring doors of the vehicle body.

12. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser device includes a support limb onto which the stabiliser member is mounted, and the support limb is configured to be attached to the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

13. A vehicle according to Claim 12 wherein the support limb is attached to the lateral surface of the vehicle body:

• at or towards the middle of the lateral surface of the vehicle body; and/or • adjacent a door of the vehicle body, or on the door of the vehicle body, or between neighbouring doors of the vehicle body.

14. A vehicle according to Claim 12 or Claim 13 wherein the support limb is configured to define a gap between the stabiliser member and the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

15. A vehicle according to any one of Claims 12 to 14 wherein the support limb is articulated and/or telescopic to permit rotation and/or displacement of the stabiliser member relative to the vehicle body.

16. A vehicle according to any one of Claims 12 to 15 wherein the support limb includes one or more projecting elements arranged on the support limb, the or each projecting element being shaped to interfere with formation of fluid-dynamic drag on the support limb.

17. A vehicle according to Claim 18 wherein the or each projecting element has a disc- shaped body that surrounds the support limb.

18. A vehicle according to Claim 17 wherein a cross-section of the disc-shaped body of the or each projecting element is shaped to have:

• a curved circumference;

• a circular, oval, oblong, elliptical or arcuate shape;

• an angled perimeter; or

• a triangle or square shape.

19. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser member includes a raised portion that is shaped to break fluid flow over the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

20. A vehicle according to Claim 19 wherein the stabiliser member includes a first raised portion that is formed on an outer surface of the trailing portion.

21. A vehicle according to Claim 19 or Claim 20 when either claim is dependent from Claim 6 wherein the stabiliser member includes a second raised portion that is formed along the indentation that is formed at the distal edge of the tail section.

22. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser member includes a cavity.

23. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser member includes at least one light source attached to the leading portion and/or at least one light source attached to the trailing portion.

24. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser member includes a camera, wherein the stabiliser member is arranged to form a cover for the camera.

25. A vehicle according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the stabiliser device includes a proximity sensor, an air sensor, an air pressure sensor, a wind sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, and/or a humidity sensor.

Description:
VEHICLE COMPRISING A STABILISER DEVICE

This invention relates to a vehicle comprising a stabiliser device for reducing fluid-dynamic drag (e.g. aerodynamic or aquadynamic drag) of the vehicle.

A vehicle is used to transport people or cargo. Examples of vehicles include land vehicles, railed vehicles, watercraft, amphibious vehicles and aircraft.

According to an aspect of the invention, there is provided a vehicle comprising a vehicle body and a stabiliser device for reducing fluid-dynamic drag of the vehicle, wherein the stabiliser device is arranged on a lateral surface of the vehicle body, and wherein the stabiliser device includes a stabiliser member, a shape profile of the stabiliser member including a rounded leading portion and a trailing portion fiuid-dynamically shaped to reduce fluid-dynamic drag along the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

The invention may be applied to, or incorporated in, any type of vehicle such as land vehicles, railed vehicles, watercraft, amphibious vehicles and aircraft, in particular cars, taxis, lorries, buses, trains, boats and helicopters.

The term“fluid-dynamic drag” means the drag experienced by an object moving in a fluid environment, and includes, but is not limited to, aerodynamic drag (air environment) and aquadynamic drag (water environment). Aerodynamic drag is a force applied by air that acts on a moving object in opposition to the motion of the object, thus resisting the motion of the object through air. Aquadynamic drag is a force applied by water that acts on a moving object in opposition to the motion of the object, thus resisting the motion of the object through water.

For the purposes of this specification, it will be understood that the term “rounded” is intended to refer to a smooth, curved shape.

During the motion of a vehicle through a fluid environment, the fluid flows over the surfaces of the vehicle, including the lateral surfaces of the vehicle, and creates drag that resists the motion of the vehicle through the fluid environment.

Arranging the stabiliser member of the invention on a lateral surface of the vehicle body advantageously allows the shape profile of the stabiliser member to disrupt the flow of the fluid over the lateral surface of the vehicle body and increase the amount of fluid turbulence over the lateral surface of the vehicle body, thus reducing the amount of fluid-dynamic drag on the vehicle body. The effect of the invention is observed to increase with the speed of motion of the vehicle.

The configuration of the stabiliser member of the invention to reduce fluid-dynamic drag along the lateral surface of the vehicle body is useful because most vehicles typically have substantially flat lateral surfaces that are prone to experiencing high levels of fluid-dynamic drag, in particular vehicles with large and long lateral surfaces such as trains and buses. Reducing the amount of fluid-dynamic drag in this manner improves the energy efficiency, and therefore increases the travel range, of the vehicle. This applies to ail types of vehicles running on any means of energy, such as petrol, diesel, hydrogen fuel and electricity.

Furthermore, the reduction in fluid-dynamic drag along the lateral surface of the vehicle body advantageously improves the lateral stability of the vehicle, especially at high speeds and in windy conditions.

The configuration of the stabiliser device of the invention therefore provides a simple and cost-effective means of reducing fluid-dynamic drag and stabilising the motion of a vehicle.

The leading and trailing portions of the stabiliser member may be fluid-dynamica!!y shaped in a variety of ways to reduce fluid-dynamic drag along the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

In embodiments of the invention, the rounded leading portion may be a spherical or parabolical leading portion. A spherical leading portion fakes the form of a sphere or a segment of a sphere. The shape profile of the stabiliser member may further include a flat nose section at a distal end of the leading portion away from the trailing portion. In addition, side wails of the stabiliser member may include fiat wall sections that extend from the flat nose section towards the trailing portion. Preferably the flat wall sections extend up partway from the flat nose section towards the trailing portion, e.g. up to a lengthwise midpoint of the stabiliser member.

In further embodiments of the invention, the trailing portion may be tapered in a direction away from the leading portion. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the leading and trailing portions are fluid- dynamically shaped to define a teardrop shape profile of the stabiliser member. The teardrop shape profile comprises a rounded leading portion and tapered trailing portion.

Optionally, the trailing portion may include a tail section at a distal end away from the leading portion, and the tail section may have a planar or ducktail shape. The shape profile of the tail section having a ducktail shape is curved and raised towards a distal edge of the tail section.

Further optionally, the trailing portion may include a tail section at a distal end away from the leading portion, and an indentation may be formed at a distal edge of the tail section. The indentation may have any kind of shape, but is preferably concave. More preferably, the concave indentation may be a V-shaped indentation or a U-shaped indentation.

The formation of the ducktail and/or indentation on a distal edge of the tail section provides a reliable means of disrupting the flow of the fluid and increasing the amount of fluid turbulence over the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

In still further embodiments of the invention, the stabiliser member may include a first fin, a second fin, a third fin and/or a fourth fin. The stabiliser member may include multiple first fins, multiple second fins, multiple third fins, and/or multiple fourth fins.

The first fin may be arranged underneath the leading portion, e.g. inside a cavity of the leading portion, and oriented along a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body. The first fin may extend outside the leading portion, or may be contained inside the leading portion.

The second fin may be arranged underneath the trailing portion, e.g. inside a cavity of the trailing portion, and oriented along a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body. The second fin may extend outside the trailing portion, or may be contained inside the trailing portion.

The third fin may be arranged underneath the leading portion and/or the trailing portion, e.g. inside a cavity of the leading portion and/or the trailing portion, and oriented along a plane that is tilted relative to a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body. The fourth fin may be arranged underneath the leading portion and/or the trailing portion, e.g. inside a cavity of the leading portion and/or the trailing portion, and oriented along a plane that is tilted relative to a horizontal plane with respect to the vehicle body. Furthermore, the fourth fin may be attached to the leading portion and/or the trailing portion via an attachment limb that is oriented along a vertical plane with respect to the vehicle body. The fourth fin may substantially have an L-shape.

The purpose of each fin is to provide the stabiliser member with an improved shape profile that further reduces air resistance.

The stabiliser device may be arranged in different locations on the vehicle so long as it is arranged on a lateral surface of the vehicle body to permit the shape profile of the stabiliser member to reduce fluid-dynamic drag along the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

For example, the stabiliser device may be arranged: at or towards the middle of the lateral surface of the vehicle body; and/or adjacent a door of the vehicle body, or on the door of the vehicle body, or between neighbouring doors of the vehicle body. A vehicle door is typically located on the side of a vehicle so that the vehicle door defines part of the lateral surface of the vehicle body. Arranging the stabiliser device on or near the door(s) of the vehicle body enables the invention to provide the door(s) with a stabilising effect.

In embodiments of the invention, the stabiliser device may include a support limb onto which the stabiliser member is mounted, and the support limb may be configured to be attached to the lateral surface of the vehicle body.

The provision of the support limb provides flexibility in the attachment of the stabiliser member to the lateral surface of the vehicle body, which permits the stabiliser member to be arranged in different locations relative to the vehicle body.

In such embodiments, the support limb may be attached to the lateral surface of the vehicle body: at or towards the middle of the lateral surface of the vehicle body; and/or adjacent a door of the vehicle body, or on the door of the vehicle body, or between neighbouring doors of the vehicle body.

In further such embodiments, the support limb may be configured to define a gap between the stabiliser member and the lateral surface of the vehicle body. In still further such embodiments, the support limb may be articulated and/or telescopic to permit rotation and/or displacement of the stabiliser member relative to the vehicle body. This not only enables the repositioning of the stabiliser member to optimise the reduction of fluid-dynamic drag of the vehicle, but also permits configuration of the support limb to enable the stabiliser member to be retracted or folded away.

During the motion of the vehicle through the fluid environment, the fluid also flows over the surface of the support limb, thus creating further drag that not only resists the motion of the vehicle through the fluid environment but also causes instability of the support limb.

In embodiments of the invention, the support limb may include one or more projecting elements arranged on the support limb, the or each projecting element being shaped to interfere with formation of fluid-dynamic drag on the support limb. The or each projecting element by virtue of having a greater cross-sectional area than the support limb helps to stabilise the support limb by interfering with the formation of fluid-dynamic drag on the support limb.

The or each projecting element may be positioned anywhere along the length of the support limb. For example, the or each projecting element may be positioned centrally along the length of the support limb, towards the stabiliser member at one end of the support limb, or towards the vehicle body at the other end of the support limb. In addition, when multiple projecting elements are arranged on the support limb, the projecting elements may be spaced apart at equal or unequal intervals along the length of the support limb.

The shape and size of the or each projecting element may vary so long as the or each projecting element is shaped to interfere with formation of fluid-dynamic drag on the support limb. The or each projecting element may have a disc-shaped body that surrounds the support limb in this way, the or each projecting element is formed as a ring. A cross- section of the disc-shaped body of the or each projecting element may be shaped to have: a curved circumference; a circular, oval, oblong, elliptical or arcuate shape; an angled perimeter; or a triangle or square shape.

In further embodiments of the invention, the stabiliser member may include an external facing raised portion that is shaped to break fluid flow over the lateral surface of the vehicle body. The raised portion may be shaped as a disc or ring, and/or may have a circular, oval, oblong, elliptical or arcuate shape. The stabiliser member may include a first raised portion that is formed on an outer surface of the trailing portion.

The stabiliser member may include a second raised portion that is formed along the indentation that is formed at the distal edge of the tail section. The shape of the second raised portion may resemble the shape of the indentation. For example, if the indentation is concave, the second raised portion may have a concave shape.

The stabiliser member may include a cavity, preferably a concave cavity. This results in a lighter stabiliser member without negatively impacting the fluid-dynamic drag reduction ability of the invention.

The stabiliser member may include at least one light source attached to the leading portion and/or at least one light source attached to the trailing portion. Preferably the or each light source is in the form of a light-emitting diode (LED) but may take the form of any other type of light source.

The stabiliser member may include a camera, wherein the stabiliser member is arranged to form a cover for the camera. The provision of the stabiliser member as a cover for the camera enables the stabilisation of the position of the camera during the motion of the vehicle in order to improve the viewing ability of the camera.

In such embodiments, the camera may be pivotally mounted at one end of the support limb. This permits repositioning of the camera in order to adjust the view captured by the camera.

The stabiliser device may include one or more cameras mounted along the length of the support limb and/or a camera mounted inside the first raised portion.

The stabiliser device may include a proximity sensor, an air sensor, an air pressure sensor, a wind sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, and/or a humidity sensor. This enables measurement of environmental conditions in the vicinity of the car which, for example, may be used as information for driveriess cars. The or each sensor may be an optical sensor, preferably a laser sensor. The proximity sensor may be used to detect objects in the vicinity of the vehicle, e.g. within a 500 metre range. The wind sensor may be used to detect wind conditions in the vicinity of the vehicle, e.g. within a 500 metre range.

Preferably, the or each sensor is located inside a cavity of the stabiliser member, but may be located in other parts of the stabiliser device, e.g. on an external surface of the stabiliser member or on the support limb.

It will be appreciated that the use of the terms“first” and“second”, and the like, in this patent specification is merely intended to help distinguish between similar features (e.g. the first and second fins, the first and second raised portions, etc.), and is not intended to indicate the relative importance of one feature over another feature, unless otherwise specified.

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of non-limiting examples, with reference to the following drawings in which:

Figures 1a and 1 b respectively show front and rear views of a stabiliser device of a vehicle according to a first embodiment of the invention;

Figure 2 shoves a stabiliser member of the stabiliser device of Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 shows an internal view inside a cavity of the stabiliser member of Figure

2;

Figures 4 to 9 respectively show rear, front, left, bottom perspective, bottom and top views of the stabiliser member of Figure 2;

Figures 10 to 13 show the mounting of a camera on a support limb of the stabiliser device of Figure 1 ;

Figure 14 shows a configuration of a projecting element formed on a support limb of the stabiliser device of Figure 1 ;

Figures 15 and 16 show' aiternative configurations of projecting elements on a support limb of the stabiliser device of Figure 1 ;

Figure 17 shows a vehicle according to a second embodiment of the invention; Figures 18 to 23 respectively show rear, front, right, bottom perspective, bottom and top views of a stabiliser device of the vehicle of Figure 17;

Figure 24 shows a top view of a stabiliser device of a vehicle according to a third embodiment of the invention; and

Figures 25 to 27 show bottom perspective, bottom and rear views of a stabiliser device of a vehicle according to a fourth embodiment of the invention. The figures are not necessarily to scale, and certain features and certain views of the figures may be shown exaggerated in scale or in schematic form in the interests of clarity and conciseness.

The following embodiments of the invention are described with reference to their use with a car, but it will be appreciated that the following embodiments of the invention may also be used with other types of vehicles, such as other land vehicles, railed vehicles, watercraft, amphibious vehicles and aircraft. In addition, the following embodiments of the invention are described with reference to the motion of the car through an air environment, but it will be appreciated that the following embodiments of the invention apply mutatis mutandis to other fluid environments.

A car 30 according to a first embodiment of the invention is shown in Figures 1a and 1 b. The car 30 comprises a car body 32 and a stabiliser device 34.

The stabiliser device 34 includes a stabiliser member 36, a support limb 38 and a camera 40, as shown in Figure 2. The stabiliser member 36 is pivotally mounted onto the camera 40, which in turn is pivotally mounted onto the support limb 38. The support limb 38 is attached to a lateral surface of the car body 32, i.e. to the side of the car body 32. The configuration of the stabiliser device 34 is explained below in further detail.

Figures 2 to 9 show various views and features of the stabiliser member 36.

The stabiliser member 36 includes a leading portion 42 that is arranged to face the front of the car 30 and a trailing portion 44 that is arranged to face the rear of the car 30. The leading and trailing portions 42,44 are fluid-dynamicaily shaped to define a teardrop shape profile of the stabiliser member 36. In particular, the leading portion 42 is rounded (i.e. shaped to be smooth and curved), and the trailing portion 44 has a rounded outer surface and is tapered in a direction away from the leading portion 42. The trailing portion 44 includes a tail section 46 at a distal end away from the leading portion 42. A concave indentation 48 is formed at a distal edge of the tail section 46 at the rear of the stabiliser member 36 it is envisaged that, in other embodiments of the invention, the indentation 48 may have a different kind of shape. It is also envisaged that, in other embodiments, the concave indentation may be omitted. Furthermore, a flat nose section 43 is formed at a distal end of the leading portion away from the trailing portion. In other words, the nose and tail sections 43,48 are formed at opposite ends of the stabiliser member 36.

Preferably the width of the nose section 43 is wider than the width of the fail section 46. In other embodiments, the width of the nose section 43 may be the same as or narrower than the width of the tail section 48.

The stabiliser member 36 further includes a light source 45 in the form of an LED attached to the front of the leading portion 42 and above the nose section 43. When viewed from the front, the LED 45 is shaped as a rectangular strip with a semicircular portion at one end of the strip. The LED 45 is curved to follow the profile of the leading portion 42.

It will be appreciated that the LED 45 is an optional feature, and may be omitted or replaced by a different type of light source. It is envisaged that, in other embodiments, the stabiliser member 36 may include a plurality of light sources, and/or the or each light source may be configured to have a different shape than what is shown in the figures. Optionally, one or more light sources may be attached to the trailing portion 44.

An external facing raised portion 50 is formed on the top, outer surface of the trailing portion 44, and is shaped as a circular ring. It is envisaged that, in other embodiments of the invention, the raised portion 50 may have a different shape, such as an oval, oblong, elliptical or arcuate shape.

The stabiliser member 36 has a concave cavity formed therein, as shown in Figure 3. A fin 52 is arranged inside the concave cavity and underneath the leading portion 42. The fin 52 is oriented along a horizontal plane with respect to the car body 32 so that the fin 52 is arranged to be perpendicular, or substantially perpendicular, to the lateral surface of the car body 32 and is oriented along a direction that is substantially parallel to a direction of travel of the car body 32. in the embodiment shown, the fin 52 is completely contained inside the concave cavity, but in other embodiments the fin 52 may extend out of the concave cavity and outside of the leading portion 42. It will be appreciated that the fin 52 is an optional feature.

By mounting the stabiliser member 36 on the camera 40, the stabiliser member 36 forms a cover for the camera 40 The cavity of the stabiliser member 36 includes a circular receptacle forming a circular socket 54 that receives the top of a spherical body of the camera 40. The outer diameter of the socket 54 is sized so that the outer edge of the socket 54 is adjacent to the side waiis of the cavity. The provision of the socket 54 enables the stabiliser member 38 to be securely attached to the camera 40. It Is envisaged that, in other embodiments, the cavity may include a receptacle of any shape so long as the receptacle is capable of forming a socket that receives the top of the body of the camera 40. For example, the shape of the socket may be a teardrop, oval, oblong, elliptical, arcuate, square, or a square with rounded corners.

In the embodiment shown, the fin 52 extends between the socket 54 and a side wall of the cavity. A gap is formed directly above the fin 52 and inside the cavity. This gap may be left empty, or may be occupied by a filler material, e.g. foam or a covering element. The filler material may be of any size and shape.

Figures 10 to 13 show the mounting of the camera 40 on the support limb 38. The purpose of the camera 40 is to provide rear view vision to, for example, a car occupant or for when the car is a driverless car.

The camera 40 is mounted onto one end of the support limb 38 by way of a ball joint. This enables the pivotal movement of the camera 40 relative to the support limb 38, as shown in Figure 13, and therefore enables the pivotal movement of the camera 40 and stabiliser member 36 relative to the car body 32.

As shown in Figure 1 , another end of the support limb 38 is attached to the middle of the lateral surface of the car body 32 and between neighbouring doors of the car body 32. The length of the support limb 38 is configured such that a gap is defined between the stabiliser member 36 and the lateral surface of the car body 32.

The width/diameter of the cross-section of the support limb 38 may be the same along the length of the support limb 38, or may vary along the length of the support limb 38. For example, the support limb may be divided into two support limb sections, where the support limb section onto which the camera is mounted may be narrower or wider in cross- section width/diameter than the other support limb section that is connected to the car body.

The cross-section of the support limb may vary in shape, e.g. round, circular, square, triangle, etc. When the cross-section of the support limb has one or more corners (e.g. a square or triangular cross-section), the or each corner may be a rounded corner. The support limb 38 includes a projecting element 58 arranged between the two ends of the support limb 38. As shown in Figure 14, the projecting element 58 has a circular disc shaped ring body that surrounds the support limb 38 so that the projecting element 58 has a greater cross-sectional area than the support limb 38.

The shape of the projecting element 58 may vary. For example, other cross-sectional shapes of the disc-shaped body of the projecting element may have a curved circumference, an oval shape, an oblong shape, an elliptical shape, an arcuate shape, a square shape (as shown in Figure 15), or a triangle shape. When the cross-section of the projecting element has one or more corners (e.g. a square or triangular cross-section), the or each corner may be a rounded corner.

The number of projecting elements on the support limb 38 may be more than one, and the size of the projecting element(s) may also vary. Figure 16 shows two projecting elements 60,62 arranged on the same support limb 38, where one projecting element 60 has a square disc-shaped ring body, and the other projecting element 62 has a larger, circular disc-shaped ring body.

It will be understood that the or each projecting element 58,60,62 may be positioned anywhere along the length of the support limb 38. For example, the or each projecting element 58,60,62 may be positioned centrally along the length of the support limb 38, towards the stabiliser member 36 at one end of the support limb 38, or towards the car body 32 at the other end of the support limb 38. In addition, when multiple projecting elements 58,60,62 are arranged on the support limb 38, the projecting elements 58,60,62 may be spaced apart at equal or unequal intervals along the length of the support limb 38.

The or each projecting element 58,60,62 may be arranged at any rotational angle about the circumference of the support limb 38. For example, when the or each projecting element 58,60 has a square shape, the or each projecting element may be arranged so that a flat side of the or each square projecting element 58,60 is facing the direction in which the car 32 is travelling, or a corner of the or each square projecting element 58,60 is facing the direction in which the car 32 is travelling.

During the motion of the car 30 through an air environment, the air flows over the surfaces of the car 30, including the lateral surfaces of the car 30, and creates aerodynamic drag that resists the motion of the car 30. In addition, the air also flows over the surface of the support limb 38, thus creating further aerodynamic drag that not only resists the motion of the car 30 but also causes instability of the support limb 38, which can have a detrimental effect on the ability of the camera 40 to provide accurate rear view vision.

The teardrop shape profile of the stabiliser member 36 disrupts the flow of air over the lateral surface of the car body 32. In addition, the projecting element by having a greater cross-sectional area than the support limb 38 interferes with the formation of aerodynamic drag on the support limb 38. As a result, an increased amount of air turbulence in the form of vortices is created over the lateral surface of the car body 32, thus reducing the amount of aerodynamic drag on the car body 32.

Furthermore, the fin 52 underneath the leading portion 42 provides the stabiliser member 36 with an improved shape profile that further reduces air resistance, and the formation of the concave indentation 48 on a distal edge of the tail section 46 provides a reliable means of disrupting the flow of air and increasing the amount of air turbulence over the lateral surface of the car body 32.

Such reduction of aerodynamic drag on the car body 32 not only improves the energy efficiency and travel range of the car 30, but also improves the lateral stability of the car 30, especially at high speeds (e.g above 100 kph) and in windy conditions. The arrangement of the stabiliser device 34 near the doors of the car body 32 provides the doors with a stabilising effect. Also, the use of the projecting element to interfere with the formation of aerodynamic drag on the support limb 38 provides a stabilising effect to the support limb 38 in order to improve the rear view vision capability of the camera 40.

In contrast, conventional rear view side mirrors generate complicated wake patterns depending on the air flow induced by the mirrors’ frontal area, which creates additional aerodynamic drag. Typically conventional rear view side mirrors account for about 2-7% of the total aerodynamic drag on a car 30.

Components of the stabiliser device 34 may be made out of a range of materials, such as metals (e.g. titanium), plastic, carbon fibre, rubber, foam, composites, or a combination thereof.

The stabiliser device 34 may be arranged in different locations on the car 30 so long as it is arranged on a lateral surface of the car body 32 to permit the shape profile of the stabiliser member 36 to reduce aerodynamic drag along the lateral surface of the car body 32.

It is envisaged that, in other embodiments of the invention, the stabiliser device 34 may omit the camera 40, and the stabiliser member 36 may be mounted directly onto the support limb 38.

The support limb 38 may be configured to have one or more joints to enable its articulation, and/or may be configured to be telescopic. This not only enables the repositioning of the stabiliser member 36 to optimise the reduction of aerodynamic drag of the car 30, but also permits configuration of the articulation of the support limb 38 to enable the stabiliser member 36 to be retracted or folded away when not in use.

It Is also envisaged that, in other embodiments of the invention, the camera 40 may be replaced by a plurality of cameras (e.g. four or five cameras). The plurality of cameras may be integrated into the same camera unit. Each of the plurality of cameras may be used to provide a respective one of a plurality of camera functions, e.g. rear view vision, lane changing, guidance for driveriess cars, and so on.

The stabiliser device 34 may include one or more cameras mounted along the length of the support limb 38, and/or a camera mounted inside the raised portion 50.

Optionally a proximity sensor, an air sensor, an air pressure sensor, a wind sensor, a wind speed sensor, a wind direction sensor, and/or a humidity sensor may be located inside the cavity of the stabiliser member 36. It is envisaged that, in other embodiments, the or each sensor may be located on an external surface of the stabiliser member 36 or on the support limb 38. The or each sensor may be an optical sensor, preferably a laser sensor. The proximity sensor may be used to detect objects in the vicinity of the car, e.g. within a 500 metre range. The wind sensor may be used to detect wind conditions in the vicinity of the car, e.g. within a 500 metre range.

A stabiliser device 134 of a car according to a second embodiment of the invention is shown in Figures 17 to 23. The stabiliser device 134 of the second embodiment of the invention is similar in structure and function to the stabiliser device 34 of the first embodiment of the invention, and like features share the same reference numerals. The stabiliser device 134 of the second embodiment of the invention differs from the stabiliser device 34 of the first embodiment of the invention in that, in the stabiliser device 34 of the second embodiment of the invention:

• the trailing portion 44 has a substantially planar outer surface and is tapered in a direction away from the leading portion 42;

• the tail section 46 of the trailing portion 44 at the distal end away from the leading portion 42 has a ducktaii shape (i.e. the shape profile of the tail section 46 having a ducktaii shape is curved and raised towards the distal edge of the tail section 46). The formation of the ducktaii 64 on the tail section 46 provides a reliable means of disrupting the flow of air and increasing the amount of air turbulence over the lateral surface of the car body 32;

• another fin 66 is arranged inside the concave cavity and underneath the trailing portion 44. The fin 66 is oriented along a horizontal plane with respect to the car body 32 so that the fin 66 is arranged to be perpendicular, or substantially perpendicular, to the lateral surface of the car body 32 and is oriented along a direction that is substantially parallel to a direction of travel of the car body 32. In the embodiment shown, the fin 66 also extends out of the concave cavity and outside of the trailing portion 44, but in other embodiments the fin 66 may be completely contained inside the concave cavity. The fin 66 underneath the trailing portion 44 provides the stabiliser member 36 with an improved shape profile that further reduces air resistance. It will be appreciated that the fin 66 is an optional feature;

• the outer diameter of the socket 54 is sized so that the outer edge of the socket 54 is spaced apart from the side walls of the cavity, and the cavity further includes two support ribs 56 that extend from the side wails of the cavity and are attached to the sides of the socket 54.

It is envisaged that, in other embodiments of the invention, the ducktaii feature may be omitted.

A stabiliser device 234 of a car according to a third embodiment of the invention is shown in Figure 24. The stabiliser device 234 of the third embodiment of the invention is similar in structure and function to the stabiiiser device 134 of the second embodiment of the invention, and like features share the same reference numerals.

The stabiliser device 234 of the third embodiment of the invention differs from the stabiliser device 134 of the second embodiment of the invention in that, in the stabiiiser device 234 of the third embodiment of the invention, a raised portion 68 is formed along the concave indentation 48 that is formed at the distal edge of the ducktail-shaped tail section 46 at the rear of the stabiliser member 36. The raised portion 68 may take any shape that is capable of breaking fluid flow over the lateral surface of the car body 32, and is shaped as a curved bar in this particular embodiment.

A stabiliser device 334 of a car according to a fourth embodiment of the invention is shown in Figures 25 to 27. The stabiliser device 334 of the fourth embodiment of the invention is similar in structure and function to the stabiliser device 134 of the second embodiment of the invention, and like features share the same reference numerals.

The stabiliser device 334 of the fourth embodiment of the invention differs from the stabiliser device 134 of the second embodiment of the invention in that, in the stabiliser device 334 of the fourth embodiment of the invention:

• a fin 70 is arranged inside the concave cavity and underneath the trailing portion 44. A proximal end of the fin 70 is attached to one of the two support ribs 56. The fin 70 is oriented along a plane that is tilted relative to a horizontal plane with respect to the car body 32 so that the fin 70 is arranged to be perpendicular, or substantially perpendicular, to the lateral surface of the car body 32 and is oriented along a direction that is at a non-zero angle to a direction of travel of the car body 32. In this case, the non-zero angle is 45°, but may have different values in other embodiments;

• another fin 72 is arranged inside the concave cavity and underneath the trailing portion 44. A proximal end of the fin 72 is attached to an attachment limb, which in turn is attached to an inner wail of the concave cavity. The fin 72 is oriented along a plane that is tilted relative to a horizontal plane with respect to the car body 32 so that the fin 72 is arranged to be perpendicular, or substantially perpendicular, to the lateral surface of the car body 32 and is oriented along a direction that is at a non-zero angle to a direction of travel of the car body 32. In this case, the non- zero angle is 45°, but may have different values in other embodiments. The attachment limb is oriented along a vertical plane with respect to the car body 32.

In the embodiment shown, the fins 70,72 are completely contained inside the concave cavity, but in other embodiments either or both of the fins 70,72 may extend out of the concave cavity and outside of the trailing portion 44. The fins 70,72 underneath the trailing portion 44 also provides the stabiliser member 38 with an improved shape profile that further reduces air resistance.

It is envisaged that, in other embodiments of the invention, the stabiliser device 634 may include either one of the third and fourth fins. It is also envisaged that the third fin and/or the fourth fin may be incorporated in any one of the other embodiments.

It will be appreciated that one or more features of each embodiment of the invention may be applied to any of the other embodiments of the invention.




 
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