A ground vehicle traveling along a road is subject to unsteady crosswinds in a number of situations. In windy conditions, for example, the natural atmospheric wind can exhibit strong lateral gusts. Other situations, such as tunnel exits or overtaking induce sudden changes in crosswinds, as well. The interaction of this unsteady oncoming flow with the vehicle and the resulting aerodynamic forces and moments affect the vehicle stability and comfort. The objectives of the current study are to improve the understanding of flow physics of such transient flow and ultimately to develop measurement techniques to quantify the vehicle’s sensitivity to unsteady crosswind. A square back simplified car model is exposed to a forced oscillating yaw and results are compared to static measurements. Tests are conducted at Reynolds number Re = 3.7 × 105 and reduced frequencies ranging from 0.265 × 10−2 to 5.3 × 10−2. Unsteady side force and yawing moment measurements are associated with particle image velocimetry flow fields to interpret dynamic loads in link with flow topology evolution. Phase average force and moment measurements are found to exhibit a phase shift between static and dynamic tests that increases with oscillating frequency. Velocity fields reveal that the phase-shift seems to originate from the rear part of the car model. Moreover, lateral vortical structures appearing on the lee side from β = 15 deg increase this phase-shift and consequently appear to be favorable to the lateral stability of the vehicle.

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