UVALDE, Texas—Continental Tire the Americas has begun using autonomous vehicles at its test track in Uvalde to carry out a range of tire tests, hoping to make test results achieved there more conclusive and improve safety at the facility.
The test vehicle is controlled using a satellite-based navigation system. Equipped with camera and radar sensors, Continental said the car will be able to react immediately to unexpected objects—such as people or animals—on the track, even without a driver.
"In critical situations, the tires' level of technology is the deciding factor in whether a vehicle brakes in time," said Nikolai Setzer, member of Continental A.G.'s executive board and head of the Tire division. "With tire tests which use an automated vehicle, we achieve highly conclusive test results and thereby ensure the premium quality of our tires."
Using AVs for tire testing addresses two concerns: Driver fatigue and test accuracy/repeatability. Even the smallest deviations in the testing procedures at the test track can have a huge impact on the quality and comparability of the test results, Conti said.
The use of AVs in testing also plays into Continental's Vision Zero strategy for accident-free driving.