Cameras and sensors used to detect signs of floating front wheels; early version should be ready for next-gen vehicles
Here’s something that’s very relevant to us Malaysian drivers – an early risk detection system that looks out for possible aquaplaning situation. This sensor-based warning system is being developed by Continental, and detects when a vehicle’s front tyres begin to float due to a thick layer of water right underneath the contact patch which the tyre cannot expel quickly enough. This causes total loss of control.
“Wet road conditions are difficult for a car driver to evaluate,” said Bernd Hartmann, head of Enhanced ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) & Tire Interactions within the Advanced Technology department of Continental’s Chassis & Safety division. “Once you feel your vehicle floating, it is too late. Our aquaplaning assistance concepts detect the early aquaplaning phase to make the driver aware of what is going on under the tyres.
The system Continental is developing uses surround view cameras and sensors to determine whether there is a risk of aquaplaning. The cameras – mounted at the side mirrors, grille, and rear – watch out for the splash pattern. For example, excessive water displacement at all directions means a likely sign for aquaplaning. Early testing has revealed a high hit ratio of such incident.
Continental is also using sensors (eTIS or electronic Tyre Information System) mounted on the tyre’s inner liner. Signals from the eTIS accelerometer are used to detect specific signal patterns. According to the company, there is a distinct pattern of signals when enough water is transported off the tyre tread to ensure appropriate grip. So as soon as there is an excessive wedge of water form in front of the tyre contact patch, the acceleration signal begins to oscillate in a certain way to indicate an early sign of aquaplaning.
The advantage of the eTIS sensor is that it also detects remaining tyre tread depth. As such, the system can simultaneously calculate a safe speed for a given wet road condition and inform the driver.
Tests also show that future aquaplaning assistance will also have the potential to intervene even when aquaplaning occurs by applying the rear brakes in a controlled manner. It mimics torque vectoring and offer some vehicle control to the driver.
Naturally, this aquaplaning warning system is also perfect in a collective situation where V2X (Vehicle-to-Vehicle) technology may warn other road users of the possible risks of aquaplaning.
Continental are currently developing the software and hardware for this system in Frankfurt, Hanover, and Toulouse, with an initial version of the technology possibly available in the next generation of vehicles.