MILAN—Pirelli & C. S.p.A. has added a driving simulator at its research and development center in Milan in an effort to reduce tire development time and facilitate iterations.
Installed as part of the tire maker's "far-reaching digitalization strategy," the simulator will help enhance Pirelli's working relationship with the world's "best-known car manufacturers," the company said.
Pirelli is the third tire company to recently disclose that it has invested in this type of R&D, joining Goodyear and Michelin.
Offering faster assessment of virtual prototypes, the technology reduces the average development time of a new tire, both for the road and motor sports, by 30%, Pirelli said without disclosing its investment in the technology.
The simulator, procured from VI-grade GmbH, also enables the rapid remodeling of different development parameters, allowing a fast exchange of digital information between Pirelli and car makers.
The simulator allows a virtual model of any car to be programmed into the system, while joint design and development work also can be carried out on the car manufacturer's own simulator.
"This means that tire development lead times remain perfectly in step with those of the cars that they are destined for," Pirelli noted.
Furthermore, the use of a simulator means that the number of actual physical prototypes made is reduced, helping the company's sustainability ethos.
According to Pirelli, advanced simulation already has been used for more than 10 years during the design and development of Formula 1 and other motorsport tires.
The simulator consists of a 210-degree panoramic screen, 24.6 feet in diameter, which reproduces a wide range of different driving conditions, roads and circuits, Pirelli said.
At the heart of the system is a static car equipped with various active technologies that can reproduce the sensations that any driver would feel in a real car. The system incorporates the seat, steering wheel, seat belts and different shaker systems, which can replicate the movements of the suspension and engine accurately, Pirelli said.
The whole process is coordinated by a control room, which can program the simulator to reproduce the technical specifications of any tire or car. The results measure the interaction between the tire and the "road," as well as other parameters relevant to tire behavior.
These data can then be added to the subjective impressions felt by the test "driver."
Darmstadt, Germany-based VI-grade describes itself as a "leading" provider of best-in-class software products and services for advanced applications in the field of system-level simulation.
Established in 2005, VI-grade delivers innovative solutions for streamlining the development process from concept to sign-off in the transportation industry.