Uvalde, Texas - Continental AG has commissioned the first driverless tire test vehicle at its test site in Uvalde, the German company announced 19 Dec
The vehicle, said Conti, aims to make the test results for Conti’s passenger and light truck tires “more conclusive” and minimise the impact of the test procedure on the results.
The test vehicle – which can be used for a wide range of road surface types – is controlled using a satellite-based navigation system, equipped with camera and radar sensors.
The car also contributes to Conti’s “vision zero” for accident-free driving, by being capable of reacting immediately to people, animals, or other unexpected objects on the track.
“With tire tests which use an automated vehicle, we achieve highly conclusive test results and thereby ensure the premium quality of our tires,” said Nikolai Setzer, member of the Continental executive board and head of the tire division.
In order to carry out “quality tests”, Conti said its newly developed rubber compounds and tire models have to be tested under real life conditions. Such conditions include gravel surfaces, pot holes, boulders and cobblestones, as well as different types of asphalt.
The company, led by Thomas Sych, head of tire testing, has been working on the "tire test of the future" in Uvalde since 2016.
“We want to automate and thus standardise tire tests to such an extent that we can identify even the smallest differences in the tires,” explained Sych.
The automated vehicle enables Conti to “reproduce processes” precisely, meaning that every tire in the test experiences exactly the same conditions.
This, Sych added, can ensure that differences in the test are caused by the tires and not by the test procedure.
Conti’s focus now is on further developing the necessary camera and radar systems for the special case of off-road routes, so that the vehicle can react appropriately when people, animals, or other vehicles unexpectedly appear on the route, explained Sych.