Brennan, D., Worm, J., and Morgan, C., "Determination of Vehicle Frontal Area Using Image Processing," SAE Technical Paper 2013-01-0203, 2013, doi:10.4271/2013-01-0203.
The projected frontal area of a vehicle has a significant impact on aerodynamic drag, and thus is an important parameter, for vehicle development, benchmarking, and modeling. However, determining vehicle frontal area can be tedious, time consuming, expensive, or inaccurate. Existing methods include analysis of engineering drawings, vehicle projections, 3D scanners, planimeter measurements from photographs, and estimations using vehicle dimensions. Currently accepted approximation methods can be somewhat unreliable.This study focuses on introducing a method to find vehicle frontal area using digital images and subtraction functions via MATLABs' Image Processing Toolbox. In addition to an overview of the method, this paper describes several variables that were examined to optimize and improve the process such as camera position, surface glare, and vehicle shadow effects.