HANOVER, Germany—Continental A.G. is investing in a dynamic driving simulator to enhance the efficiency of its original equipment tire development process.
Conti plans to install the simulator, a Delta 3 model developed by Ansible Motion Ltd., at its Contidrom tire test center in Wietze, Germany, and bring it online by mid-2022.
As such, Conti becomes the fourth major tire maker to add a dynamic driving simulator to its tire-testing capabilities. In early 2020, Goodyear, Michelin and Pirelli Tyre all disclosed their investments in the technology. Goodyear since has announced a second simulator for its European R&D center in Luxembourg.
According to Conti, the Delta 3 "driver-in-the-loop" simulator (DIL) calculates "exact driving dynamics parameters of the tires and those of the respective test vehicle." Due to its high mobility, the simulator can provide test drivers with subjective driving impressions, "just like tire tests on the test track."
The new equipment will enable Conti to shift "decisive development steps and the associated test arrangements" to the virtual world, saving time, costs and resources in the real world.
Enabled to process specific vehicle data as well as Continental's rubber compound, tire architecture and tread design information, the simulator can check "crucial parameters" and thereby reduce logistical efforts of physical tests "significantly," Conti said.
Conti did not disclose its investment in the new equipment, but said it is part of its environmental commitment to reduce emissions and will contribute to the group's sustainability efforts by reducing the number of tests.
"If our test drivers sit in the simulator cockpit in the future and less at the wheel of a vehicle, around 100,000 kilometers fewer will be completed each year on real roads or test tracks," said Holger Lange, head of passenger tire development for Continental's OE business.
The company also can cut the number of tires used in testing by around 10,000 per year as a result of the new equipment, he added. Until now, the final tuning of tires to real-life application scenarios always required the construction of a large number of test tires, according to Conti.
The aim, Conti said, is to have to build "significantly fewer" such prototypes in the future, helped by the simulator.
"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," said Boris Mergell, Conti's head of R&D for the tire business.
The Delta S3 offers increased motion space, higher resolution and the ability to evaluate tires accurately in a virtual world, Conti said, which should allow the firm's engineers to simulate accelerations over a longer period of time.
Such testing provides more realistic experiences, Conti said, such as lane-change vehicle maneuvers, tight and long-distance cornering, and driving on different surfaces.
Ansible Motion is a Norwich, England-based developer of ground vehicle driving simulators, founded in 2009 by a group of professionals with experience in the specialized fields required to design, build, deploy and support DIL simulators.