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Continental reveals smart tyre technology – ContiSense and ContiAdapt

There’s more than just cars at the Frankfurt Motor Show with Continental revealing new technologies that will make tyres responsive to road conditions…

IT SEEMS LIKE SCEINCE FICTION but Continental has revealed two new tyre technologies at the Frankfurt Motor Show that allow tyres to actively respond to pressure loss and to the surfaces they’re being driven on. And it’s the latter tyre technology, called ContiAdapt, that’s got us most interested.

See, ContiAdapt, according to Continental, features “micro-compressors integrated into the wheel to adjust the tyre pressure with a variable-width rim. The system can thus modify the size of the contact patch.

“Four different combinations allow perfect adaptation to wet, uneven, slippery and normal conditions. For example, a smaller contact patch combined with high tire pressure make for low rolling resistance and energy-efficient driving on smooth, dry roads. By contrast, the combination of a larger contact patch with lower tire pressure delivers ideal grip on slippery roads. The system also permits very low tire pressures of below 1 bar to be set, to help ease the vehicle out of a parking space in deep snow, for example, or traverse a dangerous stretch of black ice.”

ContiSense, on the other hand, features electrically conducive rubber which allows electric signals to be sent from a sensor in the tyre to a receiver inside the vehicle. If the measured values (tread depth and pressure) are either above or below a pre-set limit then the system will alert the driver.

“If anything penetrates the tread, a circuit in the tire is closed, also triggering an immediate warning for the driver – faster than the systems used to date, which only warn the driver when the tire pressure has already begun to fall,” Continental said.

“In the future, the ContiSense system will feature additional sensors that can also be utilized individually. Thus information about the road surface, such as its temperature or the presence of snow, can be “felt” by the tire and passed on to the driver. The data can be transmitted to the vehicle electronics or via bluetooth to a smartphone,” Continental added.

On show at Frankfurt was a concept tyre featuring both technologies in one and features “three different tread zones for driving on wet, slippery or dry surfaces. Depending on the tire pressure and rim width, different tread zones are activated and the concept tire adopts the required “footprint” in each case. In this way, the tyre characteristics adapt to the prevailing road conditions or driver preferences”.

Question: These tyre technologies clearly have a role to play in road safety, but will off-road drivers benefit the most from a tyre that will air-down and back up again to suit the road/track conditions. Maybe we’ll even see this on the next Land Rover Defender?

1 Comment

  1. Monty
    September 20, 2017 at 10:43 pm — Reply

    Fascinating idea, it would tempt me to go rough-roading more often. It would be even better if there were a manual override, so to speak. That would allow people to experiment with different settings.

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober