Conti test facility named ‘development tool of the year’
The 29-person international jury presiding over this year’s Vehicle Dynamics Innovation Awards have named Continental’s new weather-independent AIBA tyre testing facility winner of the awards’ “Development Tool of the Year” category.
Accepting the award, David O’Donnell, head of passenger car and light truck tyre research and development at Continental, said “with our new, in-house developed Automated Indoor Braking Analyzer at our Contidrom track, we benefit from the most accurate braking test procedures in the world for our summer and winter tyre models for passenger cars, SUVs, minibuses and vans.” O’Donnell added that AIBA enables Continental to improve reproducibility by 70 per cent. “Another positive effect is the considerably reduced physical strain on our test drivers and of course our ability to conduct testing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he continued. “Ultimately, it will enable us to make braking distances even shorter.”
Awards organiser, UK publication Vehicle Dynamics International, reports that the “judges were effusive in their praise for the winner”. Judging panel member Hormazd Sorrabjee, from Autocar India, was quoted as giving the hefty endorsement that “Continental’s new facility could change the face of tyre development.”
The AIBA tyre testing facility is located not far from Continental’s headquarters in Hannover, Germany. It entered service last autumn and Continental says the facility is “making great progress in tyre testing technology for the development of summer and winter tyres for passenger cars, vans, and 4x4s.” Following the end of the current phase of industrialisation the new facility will be able to test the braking characteristics of up to 100,000 tyres a year on dry, wet, and icy road surfaces – all year round. The AIBA facility includes a 300 metre long, 30 metre wide hall in which a driverless test vehicle can be accelerated to up to 120 km/h fully automatically and then brakes applied on various standardised road surfaces; these can be easily exchanged by means of hydraulics.
Previously, tests were conducted at the Contidrom on a track exposed to the elements and subject to varying environmental influences such as temperature and wind. The AIBA now allows tyre tests to be performed all year round under fully air-conditioned test conditions that can be reproduced almost perfectly. This means that that results – which are already distorted by the test driver’s reaction time and braking force used – no longer, or at least scarcely, experience deviations from air and road temperatures.
The Vehicle Dynamics Innovation Awards were first presented in 2008 and are held annually. Jurors (this year the jury of automotive journalists came from 19 different countries) pick a winner from the four to six shortlisted proposals for each category. Nominations are compiled by the editorial team and readers of Vehicle Dynamics International.