We investigate experimentally and numerically the transient development of the wake induced by a constant acceleration of a D-shaped bluff body, starting from rest and reaching a permanent regime of Reynolds number Re = 2000, under different values of acceleration and implementing three distinct rear geometrical configurations. Thus, alongside the classical blunt base, two control passive devices, namely, a straight cavity and an optimized, curved cavity, recently designed using adjoint optimization techniques, have also been used to assess their performance in transient flow conditions. Particle image velocimetry measurements were performed in a towing tank to characterize the near wake development in the early transient stages. It has been observed that the flow first develops symmetric shear layers with primary eddies attracted toward the base of the body due to the flow suction generated by the accelerated motion. Eventually, the interaction between the upper and lower shear layers provokes the destabilization of the flow and the symmetry breaking of the wake, finally giving rise to an alternate transitional vortex shedding regime. The transition between these phases is sped-up when the optimized cavity is used, reaching earlier the permanent flow conditions. In particular, the use of the optimized geometry has been shown to limit the growth of the primary eddies, decreasing both the recirculation and vortex formation length and providing with a more regularized, more organized vortex shedding. In addition, numerical simulations have been performed to evaluate the distribution of forces induced by the addition of rear cavities. In general, the aforementioned smoother and faster transition related to the use of optimized cavity translates into a lower averaged value of the drag coefficient, together with less energetic force fluctuations, regardless of the acceleration value.

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