A super cool and bizarre car concept that’s been making a wave in the design scene this week. Scary, for sure, but in an intriguing way. Definitely look for this in science fiction movies before you see it running errands at the grocery store.
The Flake, Da Feng’s latest design, is covered in hinged carbon-fiber pieces. Each one is connected by carbon nanotubes to tiny solenoids that can make them stand up or lay flat, like an angry cat puffing up its fur. The flakes can act like air brakes, or help in turns by puffing up an opposite side.
“When traveling at speed, the car will contract to its closed position to help control airflow, and when under braking or turning, the flakes will spring open to dynamically adjust downforce,” Feng said. “The open flakes will also allow the car to lean into the corner for better handling.”
What looks like wheels are actually 12 leglike structures arranged in a circle. As they turn on a wheel hub, the “legs” extend and contract in response to the road surface and vehicle speed. Because the bottom part of the “wheel” flattens at high speeds, turning the circle into a D-shape, Feng calls them D-wheels.
“The D-wheels track ground surfaces and adjust accordingly, making the wheel a part of the suspension system,” he said. Because of the D-wheels’ increased traction, Feng says the Flake could also be a capable off-roader.
Though it’s outlandish, Feng said he’s spoken about the design with an ex-Williams F1 engineer who pronounced it aerodynamically sound and only in need of some minor tweaks.
Still, Feng has no illusions about whether the Flake will ever show up at a dealership near you. “I know there’s a lot of optimism in the idea,” he said. “It isn’t meant to be a practical solution, rather, an inspiration for others.”
“I know there’s a lot of optimism in the idea,” he said. “It isn’t meant to be a practical solution, rather, an inspiration for others.”