In a recent development, Continental Tire is said to be investing in a state-of-the-art driving simulator that will help it produce original equipment tire and premium tires more precisely, sustainably, and efficiently. This will allow the company to meet customer requirements in the future.
The simulator is manufactured by Ansible Motion and will start operations in mid-2022. It will be located in Wietze near Hanover where Continental has its largest tire test center in Europe. The simulator is a driver-in-the-loop (DIL) version that calculates with precision the tire driving dynamics parameters in relation to those of the test vehicle.
It has high mobility, making it possible for Continetal’s professional test drivers to access driving impressions the same way tires are tested on the test track. The drivers will be able to experience diverse driving situations and test scenarios any time new Continental tires are developed.
“Developing and testing premium tires is a highly complex, time-intensive process. By using the new dynamic driving simulator, we will make this development process even more efficient in the future,” says Dr. Boris Mergell, Head of Research and Development of the Tires business area. “We want to actively shape the virtual development process in the automotive industry in the tire sector as well. The new simulator combines state-of-the-art technology with the vast experience of our professional test drivers. Continental is one of the pioneers in the use of this innovative, hybrid test technology,” he added.
Improved Sustainability: 10,000 Test Tires and 100,000 Test Kilometers Saved
The new simulator will provide significant advantages to Continental and its customers. Shifting test arrangements and decisive development steps to the virtual world saves costs, valuable resources, and time in the real world.
Since crucial parameters can be checked in the simulator, the logistical effort of most physical tests is significantly reduced. This is because experts can easily feed vehicle data into the simulator and get the necessary parameters needed for the new tire. This will be greatly supplemented by Continental’s information on tread designs, tire architecture, and rubber compounds.
Doing test cycles in the simulator means that Continental will be able to reduce the number of real roadway test tires built. This contributes heavily to the company’s sustainability efforts. One of Continental’s goals is to be a leader in progressive tire manufacture, especially when it comes to environmental and social responsibility. This goal should be achieved by 2030. The company is, therefore, investing heavily in innovative technologies that support this goal with realistic figures from the real world.
“If our test drivers sit in the simulator cockpit in the future and less at the wheel of a vehicle, around 100,000 kilometers less will be completed each year on real roads or test tracks,” explains Dr. Holger Lange, Head of Passenger Tire Development for Continental’s original equipment business. “We can also save around 10,000 test tires per year,” he added.
At the moment, arriving at the ideal tires that fit the specification of a specific car requires the construction of several test tires. The goal is to have very few prototypes in the future with the use of this simulator.
Multiple Test Possibilities
The test driver will use a specific tire model in the simulator. The parameters will be adjusted digitally if there are any anomalies. As such, all new tire models will be able to undergo predictive testing in different areas of application and driving situations with reliable results at the end. The tire parameters will also be adjusted accordingly depending on the vehicle type.
Continental is also working on finding sustainable materials for making tires. These materials will be thoroughly tested first and optimized before test tires can be made. Continental selected the Delta S3 from Ansible Motion as its choice of simulation technology. It comes with higher resolution, more motion space of four-by-four meters, and the ability to evaluate tires accurately in the virtual world.
The Delta S3 will also provide room for Continental’s engineers to simulate accelerations over longer time periods. This will provide more realistic experiences like lane changing, driving on different surfaces, and tight and long-distance cornering.