Wheel mannequins for aerodynamics testing

In professional cycling, mannequins are used for aerodynamic measurements in wind tunnels. The advantage of mannequins is that a fixed position can be taken that does not change during the different tests, making test results easily comparable. In addition, it is also a logistical and practical advantage to use a mannequin for the tests instead of real cyclists with busy schedules.

Wheel mannequins have already proven themselves but there are still improvements that can be made to further optimize their use. Here we think of more practical use, multiple positions for the same mannequin, an automated workflow for processing a 3D scan to a physical mannequin and optimized use of materials.

Goal collaboration and knowledge development

It was the goal of this project is to develop the process to turn a 3D scan of a cyclist into a life-size physical cycling mannequin in multiple positions. This mannequin must be able to withstand impact and be practical in aerodynamics testing.

The knowledge development took place as a collaboration between Team DSM, Fieldlab UPPS (Industrial Design, TU Delft), and Aerodynamics (Aerospace, TU Delft).

By combining practical sports knowledge and research, it was possible to arrive at a new design for testing the aerodynamics of a mannequin in the wind tunnel.

During the student project, 10 riders were scanned on a road bike and on the time trial bike. A weighted average was created for each position to create a generic mannequin on a time trial bike and on the road bike. Models have been generated and will be shared and 3D printed as open-source models. The generic models will serve as a golden standard for aerodynamics studies in both CFD and wind tunnel analyses. This will allow different research institutes to compare research.

During the project, a prototype was printed to investigate techniques for the practical use of the final mannequins. The mannequin had to be easily manageable, able to wear a variety of cycling clothing and be properly attached to the bicycle.

The above engineering issues were addressed and then a prototype was created, consisting of several segments making it easy to handle and transport.

Following the Fieldlab UPPS project, production of the mannequins has begun and the final details of the virtual models have been improved. The ultimate goal is to start the first CFD and wind tunnel tests in April 2023.