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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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Fleet management in 360

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An on-board dual camera system from global fleet management vehicle recovery and insurance telematics provider, Cartrack, reduces the costs of managing vehicle fleets, while creating new ways to motivate drivers and improve their on-the-road performance.

Historically, commercial drivers within fleets have been far removed from active management and oversight, with limited tools available in helping fleet owners understand how their drivers actually behave on the road. This lack of visual tracking ability has seen fleet managers struggle to achieve meaningful driver skills development, while also leaving companies vulnerable to poor operational performance and financial losses resulting from accidents.

Cartrack’s Drive Vision system is dramatically changing this status quo.

Drive Vision is an on-board dual camera system that records video footage with a 120-degree exterior view of the road ahead, and a 160-degree view inside the vehicle cab. Not only can fleet managers actively monitor all the footage that they wish, the system also records specific events such as speeding, harsh braking or an unforeseen action from a third-party.

Drive Vision’s video is continuously captured and then made available to users in two ways. The footage is either buffered in the unit’s memory card for up to five days, and selected time slots can be downloaded by the user via a web interface. Alternatively, footage is also automatically downloaded to the system when specific events occur, such as speeding or a collision.  The captured footage is stored at a web address and is immediately accessible to the client at any time. In addition, the data centre’s driver exception reporting mechanism can review the footage against a client’s pre-determined driver behaviour stipulations, creating a balanced and flexible driver performance assessment tool.

Cartrack CEO, Andre Ittmann, notes why Drive Vision is so useful for companies.

“There are two key strategic benefits to the technology.  Firstly, the company has a clear visual record of events in the case of an accident or legal dispute. Achieving this kind of detailed view hasn’t been possible before, and it can dramatically reduce the costs around incidents and accidents, on an ongoing basis. Secondly, Drive Vision is a highly functional, event-based coaching system. It therefore allows fleet managers to develop a culture that rewards excellent or improved performance, while also giving them the power to actively close skills gaps. “

Ittmann also notes that fleet video footage allows the company to monitor and manage aspects of its service and market performance, including the driver’s ability to access a work site, thereby ensuring timeous arrivals at designated locations and the ability to oversee passenger count and conduct.

Ittmann concludes that Drive Vision offers untold long-term advantages for companies.

“Beyond simply gaining a more efficient means to discipline errant drivers, Drive Vision also empowers fleet managers to proactively implement measures that will result in long-term benefits for their company. Ultimately, the company can also reduce costs related to driver mismanagement while simultaneously improving a driver’s skills and their performance on the road.”

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Porsche names e-car

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Series production of the first purely electric Porsche is set to begin next year. 

In preparation, the vehicle has now been given its official name: The “Mission E” concept study, the name currently used to describe Porsche’s complete electric offering, will be known as the Taycan. The name can be roughly translated as “lively young horse”, referencing the imagery at the heart of the Porsche crest, which has featured a leaping steed since 1952. 

“Our new electric sports car is strong and dependable; it’s a vehicle that can consistently cover long distances and that epitomises freedom”, says Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. The oriental name also signifies the launch of the first electric sports car with the soul of a Porsche. Porsche announced the name for its first purely electric series as part of the “70 years of sports cars” ceremony.

Two permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM) with a system output of over 600 hp (440 kW) accelerate the electric sports car to 100 km/h in well under 3.5 seconds and to 200 km/h in under twelve seconds. This performance is in addition to a continuous power level that is unprecedented among electric vehicles: Multiple jump starts are possible in succession without loss of performance, and the vehicle’s maximum range is over 500 km in accordance with the NEDC.

Names with meaning 

At Porsche, the vehicle names generally have a concrete connection with the corresponding model and its characteristics: The name Boxster describes the combination of the boxer engine and roadster design; Cayenne denotes fieriness, the Cayman is incisive and agile, and the Panamera offers more than a standard Gran Turismo, which is what allowed it to win the Carrera Panamericana long-distance race. The name Macan is derived from the Indonesian word for tiger, with connotations of suppleness, power, fascination and dynamics.

Future investment doubled 

Porsche plans to invest more than six billion euro in electromobility by 2022, doubling the expenditure that the company had originally planned. Of the additional three billion euro, some 500 million euro will be used for the development of Taycan variants and derivatives, around one billion euro for electrification and hybridisation of the existing product range, several hundred million for the expansion of production sites, plus around 700 million euro for new technologies, charging infrastructure and smart mobility.

Extensive modifications at tHQ 

At the Porsche headquarters in Zuffenhausen, a new paint shop, dedicated assembly area for the Taycan and a conveyor bridge for transporting the painted bodies and drive units to the final assembly area are currently being constructed. The existing engine plant is being expanded to manufacture electric drives and the body shop will also be developed. Investment is also planned for the Weissach Development Centre. Production of the Taycan is creating around 1,200 new jobs in Zuffenhausen alone.

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