Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Active Flow Control for Tractor Trailer Drag Reduction(ST11026)

Advanced Transit Dynamics, Inc.


At highway speeds, aerodynamic drag is responsible for the majority of fuel consumed by large freight trucks. Advanced Transit Dynamics, Inc. (ATD) is developing a variety of devices to reduce truck aerodynamic drag and the associated fuel consumption. Working with team member Clarkson University, ATD seeks to develop and commercialize active flow control (AFC) technology for this application. AFC requires installation of pneumatically powered actuators at the rear perimeter of the truck (or around the perimeter of the trailer doors in a tractor-trailer combination). The system works by promoting a smoother, less turbulent transition for the airstream flowing off the rear of the truck, reducing the size and intensity of the low-pressure air pocket that develops behind a blunt-tailed vehicle and which acts to retard vehicle forward motion.

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Project Description

Work includes developing specifications, performing wind-tunnel tests, designing system mechanical components, working with New York State vendors to fabricate parts, building a full-size prototype system, performing track tests to measure impacts on fuel economy, obtaining feedback from truck fleet operators, modifying the prototype system based on the test results and operator feedback, performing on-road tests, and initiating preliminary marketing and sales efforts.


The proposed system could greatly reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and may create opportunities for New York State manufacturers.

Project Results


Advanced Transit Dynamics, Inc.
245 Utah Avenue
South San Francisco, CA 94080

Principle Investigator

Andrew Smith

Universities Involved

Clarkson University


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Med/Heavy Duty

NYSERDA Contact Information

Joseph Wagner


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 3/10/2009
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST11026

Last Updated: 5/23/2013