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Tyres get smarter

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Continental has revealed two new tyre technology concepts that will make for even greater road safety and comfort in the future.

The two systems enable continuous monitoring of the tyre’s condition, as well as situation-matched adaptation of tyre performance characteristics to prevailing road conditions. The technologies, called ContiSense and ContiAdapt, made their debut at the recent 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 continuously monitor 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.

In the future, the ContiSense system will feature additional sensors that can also be utilised individually. Thus, information about the road surface, such as its temperature or the presence of snow, can be “felt” by the tyre and passed on to the 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 thus 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 to 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 considers both these tyre technology concepts promising solutions for the mobility of the future 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.

These concepts are the logical next step in the future-oriented development of the REDI sensor, brought to market by Continental in 2014, which was instrumental in establishing smart communication between vehicle and tyre.

The new tyre technology concepts follow on from two established mobility technologies: ContiSeal, for the automatic sealing of punctures, and ContiSilent, for a tangible reduction in tyre/road noise.

Able to draw on more than a century of experience in tyre technology and with in-house expertise in the fields of vehicle electronics and automotive IT, Continental is systematically aligning its products with the future requirements of autonomous driving and electric mobility while bolstering its drive towards Vision Zero – an initiative that aimed at achieving zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents.

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Why sports cars make us feel good

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Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research reveals that driving a sports car on a daily basis is among the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured “buzz moments” – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car: a customised Ford Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior. 

Watch the video here https://youtu.be/AFpt6jziFsU

“A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day,” said Dr Harry Witchel, Discipline Leader in Physiology. “This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute; this compared with an average of 3 buzz moments while riding on a roller coaster, 1.7 while on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching a Game of Thrones episode or a football match, and none at all while salsa dancing, fine dining or sharing a passionate kiss. 

For the research, Ford took one Focus RS and worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car:

From concept, design and installation to software development and programming, the Buzz Car took 1,400 man-hours to create. Each “buzz moment” experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time “emotional AI” system developed by leading empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car. The Buzz Car also features:

  • High-performance Zotac VR GO gaming PC
  • 110 x 500-lumen daylight-bright light strips
  • 82 display panels with 188,416 individually addressable LEDs

Driver state research

Researchers at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany are already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. As part of the EUfunded ADAS&ME project, Ford experts are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

“We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience,” said Dr Marcel Mathissen, research scientist at Ford of Europe. “The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving.”

Activity Buzz Moments *
Roller Coaster 3
Driving 2.1
Shopping 1.7
Game of Thrones 1.5
Football Game 1.5
Kissing 0
Salsa Dancing 0
Dining 0

* Average number of high-intensity buzz moments per participant

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Car that sees round corners

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Jaguar Land Rover is leading a £4.7 million (approximately R79 million) project to develop self-driving cars that can ‘see’ at blind junctions and through obstacles.

Britain’s biggest carmaker is leading a project called AutopleX to combine connected, automated and live mapping tech so more information is provided earlier to the self-driving car. This enables automated cars to communicate with all road users and obstacles where there is no direct view, effectively helping them see, so they can safely merge lanes and negotiate complex roundabouts autonomously.

Chris Holmes, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover said: “This project is crucial in order to bring self-driving cars to our customers in the near future. Together with our AutopleX partners, we will merge our connected and autonomous research to empower our self-driving vehicles to operate safely in the most challenging, real-world traffic situations. This project will ensure we deliver the most sophisticated and capable automated driving technology.”

Jaguar Land Rover is developing fully- and semi-automated vehicle technologies, offering customers a choice of an engaged or automated drive, while maintaining an enjoyable and safe driving experience. The company’s vision is to make the self-driving car viable in the widest range of real-life, on- and off-road driving environments and weather.

AutopleX will develop the technology through simulation and public road testing both on motorways and in urban environments in the West Midlands. Highways England, INRIX, Ricardo, Siemens, Transport for West Midlands and WMG at the University of Warwick join the AutopleX consortium, which was announced as part of Innovate UK’s third round of Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Funding in March 2018.

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