Continental presents new adaptive tyre technology concepts for future mobility

Continental has presented two new tyre technology concepts to increase road safety and comfort: ContiSense and ContiAdapt. The two systems enable continuous tyre condition monitoring and situation-matched adaptation of tyre performance characteristics to prevailing road conditions. Both technologies made their public debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA).

ContiSense is based on the development of electrically conductive rubber compounds that enable electric signals to be sent from a sensor in the tyre to a receiver in the car. Rubber-based sensors monitor continuously both tread depth and temperature. If the measured values are above or below predefined limits, the system at once alerts the driver. If anything penetrates the tread, a circuit in the tyre is closed, also triggering an immediate warning for the driver – faster than the systems used to date, which only warn the driver when the tyre pressure has already begun to fall. Conti adds that future versions of the ContiSense system will feature additional sensors that can also be utilised individually, allowing information about the road surface, such as its temperature or the presence of snow, to be passed from tyre to driver. The data can be transmitted to the vehicle electronics or via bluetooth to a smartphone.

ContiAdapt combines micro-compressors integrated into the wheel to adjust the tyre pressure with a variable-width rim. The system can modify the size of the contact patch, which under different road conditions is a decisive factor for both safety and comfort. Four different combinations allow perfect adaptation to wet, uneven, slippery and normal conditions. For example, a smaller contact patch combined with high tyre pressure make for low rolling resistance and energy-efficient driving on smooth, dry roads. By contrast, the combination of a larger contact patch with lower tyre pressure delivers ideal grip on slippery roads. The system also permits very low tyre pressures of below 1 bar to be set, to help ease the vehicle out of a parking space in deep snow, for example, or traverse a dangerous stretch of black ice.

ContiSense and ContiAdapt are joined by a concept tyre that enables the benefits of both systems to be fully leveraged. The tyre design features three different tread zones for driving on wet, slippery or dry surfaces. Depending on the tyre pressure and rim width, different tread zones are activated and the concept tyre adopts the required “footprint” in each case. In this way, the tyre characteristics adapt to the prevailing road conditions or driver preferences.

Continental states that it considers both tyre technology concepts promising solutions for the future of mobility as tyres are adapted to meet the needs of automated driving and electrification. Low rolling resistance, for example, makes it possible for electric cars to cover greater distances on a single charge. At the same time, the tyres can be adapted to suit the driver’s personal preferences or in response to sudden changes in the weather.

Conti concludes that these concepts are the next step in the development of the REDI sensor, brought to market by Continental in 2014, and helping to establish smart communication between vehicle and tyre. The new tyre technology concepts follow on from the two established mobility technologies ContiSeal, for the automatic sealing of punctures, and ContiSilent, for a tangible reduction in tyre/road noise.

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