Automotive continental ContiSense concept tyre

Published on March 25th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair

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Continental Reveals Two Cutting Edge Tyre Technology Concepts

Continental ContiSense and ContiAdapt might be features we see in the tyres of future electric vehicles.

For decades, the car tyre has undergone incremental but important changes. To the average consumer, tyres have always just been black doughnuts that they didn’t think about until the time came for a new set. Quietly though, tyre manufacturers have been advancing the technology in tyres over the years. Continental this week showed off their two latest technological advancements and they’re actually quite impressive.

The first is called ContiSense. This tech allows sensors in the tyre to monitor and detect tread depth, temperature, if there’s a puncture, and even the presence of snow. The key thing is that the sensors use newly developed electrically conductive rubber compounds to send electric signals to a receiver in the car. This allows ContiSense to alert drivers to changes faster than current tyre pressure monitoring systems can.

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The second tech is called ContiAdapt. This technology allows the tyres to adjust their pressure on-the-fly using micro compressors and a variable width rim. There are 4 preset pressures that adapt for Wet, Uneven, Slippery and Normal conditions. Naturally, normal-to-high tyre pressure allows for the best fuel efficiency while lower tyre pressure can be used to escape deep snow or get across stretches of black ice.

Continental have put both of these technologies into a concept tyre. It’s unclear if or when they’re going to bring it to market. The idea is to package it with an electric vehicle.

Here’s the press release with more.

PRESS RELEASE

ContiSense is based on the development of electrically conductive rubber compounds that enable electric signals to be sent from a sensor in the tire 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 tire is closed, also triggering an immediate warning for the driver – faster than the systems used to date, which only warn the driver when the tire pressure has already begun to fall. In the future, the ContiSense system will feature additional sensors that can also be utilized individually. Thus information about the road surface, such as its temperature or the presence of snow, can be “felt” by the tire 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 tire 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 tire 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 tire pressure delivers ideal grip on slippery roads. The system also permits very low tire 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 tire that enables the benefits of both systems to be fully leveraged. The tire design features three different tread zones for driving on wet, slippery or dry surfaces. Depending on the tire pressure and rim width, different tread zones are activated and the concept tire adopts the required “footprint” in each case. In this way, the tire characteristics adapt to the prevailing road conditions or driver preferences.

Continental considers both these tire technology concepts promising solutions for the mobility of the future as tires 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 tires 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 tire. The new tire technology concepts follow on from the two established mobility technologies ContiSeal, for the automatic sealing of punctures, and ContiSilent, for a tangible reduction in tire/road noise. Able to draw on more than a century of experience in tire 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.

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