Conductive rubber sends the information to the vehicle to alert drivers.

While much of the focus at the Frankfurt Motor Show falls on automakers, but suppliers are there, too. This year, Continental brings a some of futuristic tire technology that the company imagines combining into future rubber. The tech could make driving a lot safer in the coming years.

ContiSense is the company’s idea for a smart tire that would have on-board sensors for measuring tread depth, temperature, and for any damage. Special electrically conductive rubber lets the material send data to a receiver in the vehicle, and the driver receives the necessary warnings. Future versions of this tech would also be able to detect the road conditions. For example, the rubber would know if the ground is snowy.

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ContiAdapt goes even further by actively adjusting both the tire pressure and the wheel’s width. These tweaks change the tire’s contact patch to match the road conditions. At this stage, the system can switch between four settings: wet, uneven, slippery, and normal. Continental could configure the tech to prioritize a low rolling resistance by creating a smaller contact patch, and this would allow for better fuel economy when the conditions allow. It would also choose a low pressure and wider width to maximize the contact patch’s size on slicker surfaces.

Continental has a concept tire in Frankfurt that combines both of these technologies into a single set of rubber. The unique setup would have three tread zones for wet, slippery, and dry surfaces. ContiAdapt would adjust the width to favor the zone that’s best for a given situation. Meanwhile, Contisense would monitor road conditions for any changes. 

The company's idea is clever but would seem to limit tire life. For most drivers, the dry surface area would wear quickest, which might mean it's time to buy new tires while the wet and slippery sections are still fine.

Source: Continental

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ContiSense: Uses tyre sensors to measure tread depth, temperature and alerts drivers to tyre damage – data transmission via electrically conductive rubber

ContiAdapt: Adjusts tyre pressure and rim width to adapt contact patch to road conditions

New technology concepts to be showcased at IAA 2017 in conjunction with updated tyre study

Continental is introducing 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, will make their public debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) accompanied by a tyre study.

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 utilized individually. 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 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 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 the 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.

About Continental:

Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transport. In 2016, Continental generated sales of €40.5 billion and currently employs more than 230,000 people in 56 countries.