Robotic volumetric PIV of a full-scale cyclist

Constantin Jux, Andrea Sciacchitano*, Jan F.G. Schneiders, Fulvio Scarano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
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A novel approach to the measurement of large-scale complex aerodynamic flows is presented, based on the combination of coaxial volumetric velocimetry and robotics. Volumetric flow field measurements are obtained to determine the time-averaged properties of the velocity field developing around a three-dimensional full-scale reproduction of a professional cyclist. The working principles of robotic volumetric PIV are discussed on the basis of its main components: helium-filled soap bubbles as tracers; the compact coaxial volumetric velocimeter; a collaborative 6 degrees of freedom robot arm; particle image analysis based on Shake-the-Box algorithm and ensemble statistics to yield data on a Cartesian mesh in the physical domain. The spatial range covered by the robotic velocimeter and its aerodynamic invasiveness are characterised. The system has the potential to perform volumetric measurements in a domain of several cubic metres. The application to the very complex geometry of a full-scale cyclist in time-trial position is performed in a large aerodynamic wind tunnel at a flow speed of 14 m/s. The flow velocity in the near field of the cyclist body is gathered through 450 independent views encompassing a measurement volume of approximately 2 m3. The measurements include hidden regions between the arms and the legs, otherwise very difficult to access by conventional planar or tomographic PIV. The time-averaged velocity field depicts the main flow topology in terms of stagnation points and lines, separation and reattachment lines, trailing vortices and free shear layers. The wall boundary layers developing on the body surface hide below the level resolvable by the present measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number74
Number of pages15
JournalExperiments in Fluids: experimental methods and their applications to fluid flow
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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