How do you go faster when you’re at the perceived limit of ground speed? Sometimes it’s looking to nature to understand how creatures big and small are able to do incredible things despite their size or handicap. Other times it’s applying technology from an unlikely category or industry.
That’s what Nils Ballerstein of Bugatti has done by developing a dimpled surface to aid in better airflow on their new Bolide by using the same principles that allow a golf ball to fly effortlessly through the air. Without the dimples, a golf ball will only travel around half the distance as the dimples on the surface of the golf ball create turbulence allowing air to adhere better to the surface resulting in reduced vortex flow in the slipstream of the ball and subsequently the drag.
For the Bolide, Nils applied the same idea to the intake scoop on the roof with a morphable skin that ensures active airflow optimisation. At slow speeds the scoop is smooth but at high speeds the dimples come into play, bulging out up to 10mm depending on the speed. The response time is minimal given the demanding changes in speed of hypercars like the Bolide.
Theoretically, the improvement is a 10% improvement in aerodynamic drag and a 17% reduction in lift with airflow improving as well.
Nils has actually submitted a patent for the technology, and it will be interesting to see it play out in real life. In any case, as part of his doctoral thesis project it looks like he’ll be rewarded for his work one way or another.