International automotive supplier Continental recommends car manufacturers worldwide the consistent use of direct measuring technology in their new car models to ensure that vehicle tyres are always inflated to an optimum level. This recommendation is owed to steadily rising requirements to tyre pressure measurement. It also reflects the significant potential of direct measuring technology, making it possible to exploit the greater contribution to CO2 reduction.
Looking at the total system benefits of direct Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) technology, Helmut Matschi, Member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and Head of the Interior division, said: “Direct tyre pressure monitoring is a showcase of how many benefits a vehicle manufacturer and driver can harvest when the technology choice is made taking the whole system into account. Direct measuring technology is superior in speed and accuracy on an immediate function level. But when you look at the additional driving safety and comfort that can be created on the system level if using sensors inside the tyre, this builds a strong case for direct pressure measurement.”
“Direct” Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems are based on a sensor inside each tyre to collect fast, direct and accurate readings of the air pressure and temperature at any time, under any road condition, and at any driving speed. Instead of actively measuring the air pressure, indirect systems calculate it, based on information from the wheel speed sensors. According to Continental this indirect principle will not be sufficient to ensure the intended fuel economy levels and is therefore not capable enough to help to meet the European CO2 targets.
To reduce CO2 emissions, TPMS becomes mandatory in more and more countries.
In addition to the existing passenger vehicle legislation in the US, now, Phase 1 of tyre pressure monitoring shall be mandatory in the European Union (EU) as of 2012 and in Korea in 2013. The Phase 1 was a first step to help car drivers to reduce fuel consumption. A European Phase 2 is planned to further ensure that the overall plan to reduce CO2 emissions and to raise the safety level is followed by using all reasonable available measures. The drive behind both Phases of the legislation is to improve the status of properly inflated tyres and thus vehicle safety, reduced fuel consumption and emissions. While this is good news, the final benefit to the driver may differ depending on the type of tyre pressure monitoring technology fitted in their car. Why is this so? Statistics reveal that most tyre failures, for instance, are caused by a slow, gradual, and thus unnoticed loss of air. Direct systems can recognize gradual pressure loss with faster reaction time and higher precision. Direct tyre pressure measurement reveals that problem quickly because it can work with much tighter thresholds. Giving the driver critical, accurate tyre information enables the driver to react in a timely manner. By taking quick, corrective action, the vehicle safety is increased because proper tyre inflation ensures optimal vehicle handling and helps to keep tyre rolling resistance down. This directly translates into reduced fuel consumption and maximization of the tyre’s life.
The Continental Tyre Pressure Monitoring System improves the quality of driver information but it can also be used to increase driving safety and comfort beyond “just” ensuring proper inflation. Once each tyre is equipped with a sensor, the information on inflation can be made available to driver assistance systems via networking. In combination with a Continental app named the Filling Assistant, the tyre sensor can contact the driver’s smart phone to communicate the current pressure level – irrespective of the filling station equipment’s precision. Further, Continental’s next generation intelligent tyre modules go the next step by delivering information about the instantaneous distortion of the rolling tyre. Within a sensor fusion approach this can be used, for example, to detect the early stages of aquaplaning.
Continental is in a perfect position to drive this technology as the company has the combined expertise of a leading automotive electronics supplier and a leading tyre manufacturer. "Already today tyres are high-performance and high-tech products" says Dr. Burkhard Wies, Vice President Tyre Line Development of Continental´s Passenger and Light Truck division: "Fitting tyres with sensors takes the functional scope and the contribution of tyres with correct air pressure to driving safety and to reducing rolling resistance plus emissions to a whole new level. With the perspective of adding other functionalities like detecting the load on each wheel, further enhancements of safety are possible by combining this information with vehicle control systems.” Continental will be ready for series production with the first passenger cars tyres with the tyre module mounted inside the tyre in 2013.
Building on ten years of experience with developing and making direct tyre pressure sensors, Andreas Wolf, Head of Continental’s Business Unit Body & Security, confirmed: “Looking back on ten years of development and manufacturing of tyre pressure sensor hardware and algorithms our bottom line is very clear. It will take direct systems to meet the future CO2 and safety targets and to make valuable new functions such as the Filling Assistant available to drivers – Continental’s technology path underpins this vision.”
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