A new 210-degree panoramic simulator can reproduce a multitude of race or road settings for researchers reducing average development times
Pirelli utilises a lot of racing experience to develop faster and more efficient tyres for its motor-sport partners. A new simulator just installed at Pirelli research and development center at Milan facility will be able to replicate a variety of conditions along with digitally reproduced vehicle prototypes. This will reduce new tyre development time by 30 % and save a lot of actual prototype costs. Simulation development has already been functioning for motor racing, but now these benefits can be passed on to road vehicles.
Produced by VI-grade, researchers sit in the centre of a 7.5m wraparound screen. This seat represents the static vehicle which can generate active sensations via the steering wheel, seat and seatbelt connected through a shaker system to mimic suspension and engine feedback. This is necessary to avoid any digital-analogue discrepancy for road cars as opposed to race tracks, road conditions are severely varying. A central control room can now simulate the desired program by entering technical specifications of any car paired with any tyre set-up. All the data is logged and synchronised with the test driver reactions. This data can then be joined with the dynamic simulator project at Politecnico di Milano for lateral and longitudinal acceleration, and rotation.
Apart from the reduction in average development time of new tyres, the system can replicate virtual vehicle prototypes instead of the actual physical units. Thus the need for actual prototypes can be limited to more important tasks. This means a reduction in development costs and carbon footprint, which resonates with the entire automotive industry. The virtual model of any vehicle can be either supplied by the manufacturer or can be developed by Pirelli in-house, and as the company has close development ties with manufacturers, these simulations can be done at OEM centres as well. This close proximity eliminates any communication errors within the development teams sitting at both the Pirelli and manufacturer end.
Yes, it should be noted that Pirelli has more Premium clients as its customers. But the learning from the system means more thoughts can be put into by other tyre manufacturers to streamline their line of working. Road conditions vary endlessly, but almost all of them, and perhaps more, can be simulated accurately by current systems. This should give a combined benefit of quicker and cleaner development cycles for tyres.