German tire and technology company Continental has commissioned the first driverless tire test vehicle, using pioneering technology based on the company’s automated Cruising Chauffeur. Launched at the Continental test site in Texas, US, the innovative system will see newly developed tires being tested under real-life conditions across a wide range of road surfaces.
Controlled through a satellite-based navigation system, the new test vehicle is equipped with camera and radar sensors allowing the vehicle to react immediately to people, animals, or other unexpected objects on the road without a driver.
Nicolai Setzer, Continental executive board member and head of the tire division, said: “In critical situations, the tires’ level of technology is the deciding factor in whether a vehicle brakes in time. With tire tests which use an automated vehicle, we achieve highly conclusive test results and thereby ensure the premium quality of our tires.”
Driving test vehicles places huge demands on the drivers and the smallest deviations on the test track can have a huge impact on the quality and comparability of the test results. Therefore, newly developed rubber compounds and tire models will be tested under real-life conditions to show just how well they perform on different road surfaces.
The tire test using automated vehicles will also reduce the maintenance work required for the test tracks as there will be fewer route variations.
Thomas Sych, head of tire testing at Continental, said: “We want to automate and standardize tire tests to such an extent that we can identify even the smallest differences in the tires. The automated vehicle enables us to reproduce processes precisely, meaning that every tire in the test experiences exactly the same conditions. This way, we can ensure that differences in the test are actually caused by the tires and not by the test procedure.”