By Andrew Williams,
Continental, the German tyre manufacturer, has revealed research into a holistic approach to tyre design that will help maximize the effects of driver assistance technologies, such as ABS/ESC systems.
The majority of modern cars are now fitted with electronic ABS and ESC systems, which are designed to help drivers overcome problems with skidding or poor cornering. Since ABS was introduced, in 1978, driver assistance systems have become increasingly sophisticated, but tyre design has taken little or no account of the compatibility of tyres to the electronic systems. Continental is set to rectify this omission.
As a manufacturer of both auto-electronic systems like ESC and vehicle tyres, Continental is in a unique position to maximize its knowledge to ensure that the two products work in harmony to bring out the best in each other. The intention is to produce safer tyres and electronic systems that are more interactive than constrictive, allowing the room for ?fun? but safe driving.
Tyre designers at Continental have been experimenting with different tyre treads to see which works most efficiently in conjunction with ABS and ESC systems. According to the company, they have developed a holistic, integrated design for tyres and driver assist systems that will help to prevent accidents.
Continental?s research shows that the likelihood of an accident is six-fold during the winter months compared to summer, and that over 50% of all accidents occur during the winter. Dr Burkhard Wies, director of passenger vehicle tyre development at Continental, stated that, ?Despite new winter tyres and driver assist systems, hardly anything has changed in this regard. We have to rely on integrated system networks if we want to make any significant strides in dealing with hazardous wintry road conditions?.
When working in conjunction with different driver assistance systems, winter tyre tread-design affects braking distance and cornering performance differently. The engineers at Continental have been searching for the optimum tyre design, and they advise coordinating driver assistance systems and tyres to overcome any conflict in objectives, and to shorten braking distances and enhance cornering.
Continental?s holistic approach is expected to bear fruit in the near future. They hope to introduce a winter tyre with a tread design customized to vehicles with ABS and ESC systems, which will reduce breaking distances by 10% while optimizing cornering ability. This could enhance the effects of driver assistance systems and have a profound impact on safety expectations in the future, especially in wintry conditions.