Continental, the German tyre and technology company, has commissioned the first driverless tyre test vehicle, using pioneering technology based on the company’s automated Cruising Chauffeur.
Launched at the Continental test site in Texas, USA, the innovative system will see newly developed tyres being tested under real life conditions across a wide range of road surface, making test results for Continental’s passenger and light truck tyres more conclusive to ensure premium quality.
Controlled through a satellite-based navigation system, the new test vehicle is equipped with camera and radar sensors allowing the vehicle to react immediately to people, animals, or other unexpected objects on the road without a driver.
This contributes to making Continental’s Vision Zero strategy for accident-free driving a reality.
Nicolai Setzer, Continental Executive Board member and Head of Tyre Division said: “In critical situations, the tyres’ level of technology is the deciding factor in whether a vehicle brakes in time.
“With tyre tests which use an automated vehicle, we achieve highly conclusive test results and thereby ensure the premium quality of our tyres.”
Driving test vehicles places huge demands on the drivers and the smallest deviations on the test track can have a huge impact on the quality and comparability of the test results.
Therefore, newly developed rubber compounds and tyre models will be tested under real life conditions to show just how well they perform on different road surfaces.
In addition to the significantly improved comparability of the results, the tyre test using automated vehicles will also reduce the maintenance work required for the test tracks as there will be less route variations.
Thomas Sych, Head of Tyre Testing at Continental, commented: “We want to automate and standardise tyre tests to such an extent that we can identify even the smallest differences in the tyres.
“The automated vehicle enables us to reproduce processes precisely, meaning that every tyre in the test experiences exactly the same conditions. This way, we can ensure that differences in the test are actually caused by the tyres and not by the test procedure.
Our focus now is on further developing the necessary camera and radar systems for this special case of off-road routes.”
Automated vehicles are not new for Continental. As far back as 50 years ago, the company’s engineers developed an electronically controlled car to automate tyre tests 50 years ago when the vehicle followed a wire that was glued to the track, which limited its use to asphalt test tracks.
Today’s prototype can also safely navigate along gravel roads without a driver.
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