Toronto, Ontario — In this weekly electric and autonomous vehicle report, Hyundai patents active air skirt technology to improve electric vehicle range and stability; while BMW tests eye-activated lane-changing technology in its Level 2 driver assistance systems.
Dusting off drag
Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation have announced a patent application for Active Air Skirt technology—a system designed to improve electric vehicle range and stability by reducing aerodynamic drag at higher speeds.
The technology specifically applies to vehicles with Hyundai’s E-GMP platform and would include a fully flat floor to change the aerodynamics and how airflow can be optimized.
According to the patent, the Active Air Skirt is installed between the front bumper and front wheels and is not visible during normal operations.
At speeds above 80 km per hour—when aerodynamic resistance becomes greater than air resistance—the system would engage and disengage again when the vehicle drops below 70 km per hour.
The technology can also operate at speeds above 200 km per hour. Hyundai says this is possible because of the use of rubber material on the lower section of vehicles which improves durability and reduces the risk of external objects damaging parts at higher speeds.
Hyundai has tested this technology in the Genesis GV60 and found it reduces the drag coefficient (Cd) in the vehicle by 0.008 (Cd), a 2.8 percent improvement or roughly six extra kilometres added at a full charge.
The technology also works to increase the downforce on the vehicle which improves traction, reduces wind noise and increases stability at higher speeds.
While the Active Air Skirt is still at a patent stage, once it goes through additional durability and performance testing, Hyundai plans to consider it for mass production.
It’s all in a look
BMW has announced that it has updated its Level 2 driver assistance system to several of its 2024 models with a new option that lets drivers switch lanes simply by looking at a side mirror.
The tech, called Active Lane Change, functions when compatible vehicles are driving in semi-autonomous mode. Here, the vehicle can suggest a lane change and, if the driver decides to go ahead with it, all they have to do is look at the corresponding side mirror.
Doing this will then activate the turn signal and the vehicle will steer itself into the adjacent lane.
Updated Level 2 autonomous driving systems are currently available in BMW’s new 5 series, 7 series, X5, X6, X7 and iX.
At this current stage, it is unclear if merely glancing at the mirror would allow for a lane change or if the system would require the driver to lock eyes for a set period of time in order to function.