MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
May 22, 2018

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Continental Develops Hydroplaning Warning System

Cameras and tire sensors detect and manage imminent hydroplaning

Continental AG is working on an automatic ADAS system — dubbed the Electronic Tire Information System (eTIS) — that will warn drivers of the risk of hydroplaning. In the future, the hydroplaning warning system, which is based on camera and tire sensor data, will detect hydroplaning situations sooner, in time to ease driver stress and mitigate, or even avoid, accidents.

Cameras recognize a specific splash and spray pattern (see inset) that can be detected as aquaplaning in its early phase. (All images — Continental AG)

Camera Sensors Detect Hydroplaning Splash Patterns
“Even with the best tires, sudden hydroplaning is always a frightening moment and can mean the danger of an accident,” shared Frank Jourdan, member of the Continental Executive Board and head of the Chassis & Safety division. “We are developing a high-performance technology based on sensor information and software that detects a potential risk of aquaplaning and warns the driver in time. While the system is currently in development, we expect to have it ready for the next generation of production-series vehicles.”

Hydroplaning occurs when the tire tread cannot deflect the water from the road quickly enough. This loss of grip on extremely wet roads dramatically reduces the ability to control vehicles and presents a major accident risk. According to Jourdan, Continental’s final stage testing indicates the eTIS warning technology has the potential to intervene in an actual hydroplaning situation by applying the rear brakes in a controlled way to establish a degree of torque vectoring that will maintain vehicle maneuverability within safe physical limits.

“When there is a lot of water on the road, the eTIS camera images can detect a specific splash and spray pattern from the tires unique to hydroplaning in its earliest moments,” shared Bernd Hartmann, Continental’s eTIS project manager. “To detect excessive water displacement, the technology initially relies on images from several wide-angle, surround-view cameras installed in both side mirrors, the grill, and on the rear of the vehicle. This means that drivers will be warned in advance so they can adjust their vehicle speed earlier.

Signals from the Electronic Tire Information Systems (see inset) warn about an imminent risk of hydroplaning.

Tire Accelerometer Sensors Provide Road Surface Data
“In addition to the camera data, the Continental eTIS technology also utilizes accelerometer sensors embedded in the tires,” added Andreas Wolf, head of Continental’s Body & Security business unit. “The accelerometer sensor signals are analyzed for a specific splash pattern directly at the tire and road interface. This eTIS sensor also measures the tire’s remaining tread, which is used to determine a safe speed for specific wet road conditions, which is then communicated to the driver.”

“Hydroplaning depends on the tread depth of the tires, the depth of the water on the road and the driving speed,” noted Hartmann. “Continental recommends renewing summer tires with a remaining tread of three millimeters. If the tread depth is any less, there is a much higher risk of hydroplaning. As Continental refines the eTIS warning technology, the Tier 1 supplier says the camera and tire sensor data will be integrated and evaluated more quickly by a central vehicle computer, enabling the driver to be notified even earlier of a recommended surface appropriate speed.

“The new ADAS system also will dovetail with the advent of vehicle connectivity and automated driving,” Jourdan advised. “Examples include:

  • Vehicles that are trailing or heading toward a potential aquaplaning spot can be informed of the danger immediately via vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication and provided with a digital map based on the electronic horizon.
  • Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) will also receive relevant information from vehicles about danger areas (V2X), which can be shared with emergency services for staging purposes, warning signs and other traffic controls.
  • Finally, automated vehicles of the future will need to adjust to hydroplaning situations without human driving experience. Look for Continental’s eTIS warning system to be compatible with both manually and automatically controlled vehicles. It’s another step forward on the road to Vision Zero – road traffic without accidents.”

Look for Continental’s eTIS warning system to be compatible with both manually- and automatically-controlled vehicles. It’s another step forward on the road to Vision Zero – road traffic without accidents.”

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