Continental today announced that with its Road Condition Observer, the company has introduced a solution that allows road conditions to be classified with regard to tyre/road friction. It said that this solution provides early risk detection of aquaplaning, which is something that occurs in rainy conditions or on wet roads. Continental has begun to develop new sensor-based concepts to warn the driver in the event of imminent loss of friction.
Aquaplaning occurs when there is a thick layer of water on the road, and the water pressure between the tyre tread and the road surface can make the front wheels float. This leads to the loss of braking and steering, leading to the driver losing control of the vehicle. Aquaplaning assistance concepts utilise surround view camera images and signals from tyre-mounted sensors (eTIS) for advanced tyre information, Continental noted, It added that this holistic concept can give the driver time to prevent the front wheel of the vehicle from floating, while warning other vehicles to be prepared for a critical situation.
Continental’s new system under development encompassed tyres, tyre sensors, cameras, algorithms, brake actuation, and the human-machine interface (HMI). The objective of this concept is to detect a possible front-wheel floating situation as early as possible in order to trigger an early warning to the driver. Signals from surround view cameras and the eTIS (electronic-Tyre Information System) sensors are utilised to provide an early warning concerning the approaching aquaplaning situation. Continental is also working on the control and stabilisation of vehicles in aquaplaning situations, such as torque vectoring by individual wheel braking, it added.
The company is also working on providing information of the potential risk to other vehicles on the, which can be mitigated by early communication via V2X technology and eHorizon. It thereby facilitates a network of solidarity where one vehicle acts as a safety sensor for all other vehicles and not just those in its direct vicinity. eHorizon can provide this information to vehicles that could potentially be affected, so they are able to adjust their driving functions to the aquaplaning conditions.
To detect aquaplaning situations, video images from surround view cameras mounted in the outside rear-view mirrors, grill, and rear are analysed. When there is excess water on the road, the camera images show a specific splash and spray pattern that can be detected as aquaplaning in its early phase. During the first testing phase of the new solution, the wetness recognition algorithms delivered a very high hit ratio in predicting potential aquaplaning conditions.
In addition to image information, Continental is also said to use information from tyres to detect the risk of aquaplaning. In this concept, signals from Continental’s eTIS sensors, mounted on the tyre’s inner liner, are computed. The accelerometer signal from the eTIS is used to look for a specific signal pattern. Since the eTIS sensor can also detect the remaining depth of the tyre tread, a safe speed for a given wet road condition can be calculated and communicated to the driver.
Bernd Hartmann, Head, Enhanced ADAS and Tire Interactions, Chassis and Safety division, Continental, said wet road conditions are difficult for a car driver to evaluate. The aquaplaning assistance concepts detect the early aquaplaning phase to make the driver aware of what is going on under the tyres, he added. Hartmann noted that this can help drivers or automated vehicles to adapt their speed appropriately to wet road conditions.