Thanks to the influx of technology into today’s cars, they’re smarter than ever. Cars know which wheels are losing traction and can adjust power output accordingly. In the 2020 Chevy Corvette C8, advancements in technology can let the car know when it’s airborne. Coined “Flying Car Mode” by Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan, the Corvette knows when all four tires are off the ground, and it can adjust the car’s traction control system accordingly.
Typically, the traction control system works by slowing tires that lack grip – think snow, ice, and rain. That’s how it’s supposed to work, but it’ll also kick in when the drive tires are off the ground. That’s not so good when you’re on the racetrack fighting for every tenth of a second.
The Corvette’s “Flying Car Mode” works by having the optional adaptive Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers communicate with the traction control system. The car knows when the front tires are in the air – they don’t have the weight of the car on them – and understands that the rear tires will soon be in the air, too. Instead of allowing the traction control system to slow the drive tires when they leave the pavement, an override allows the rear tires to continue spinning. The car knows all four tires will soon be back on the ground.
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It sounds complicated and almost unnecessary, but slowing the tires slows the car, and that could hurt a car’s lap time, especially if the car’s being driven hard enough that all four tires leave the ground. It’s a neat, innovative feature that solves a problem many of us will never encounter. How often do you launch your car into the air? However, those who do should be pleased with the trick.