Fancy a break from the assault of new car after new car? Well we’ve got just the medicine you need. Continental Tyres has announced two futuristic in-tyre technologies that include electrically-conductive rubber – and wheels that can change shape and alter tyre pressure to suit the road conditions.
The first, ContiSense, uses tyre-monitoring sensors to measure tread depth, temperature and damage, sounding warnings if anything dangerous is going on. That could be amazing on track days, letting you know about punctures even before the pressure starts to drop, or highlighting overheating so you don’t ruin the compound.
Continental says the sensors themselves are rubber-based but can wirelessly transmit electrical signals to the car’s main brain. Neat. The data can even be sent to a smartphone, so if the puncture happens as you pull into a parking space, your phone will tell you even if your car doesn’t have time to.
The second system is ContiAdapt, which combines micro-compressors integrated into the wheel itself with a variable-width rim. The airtight system can modify the size of the contact patch according to the prevailing road conditions, with four pre-set configurations at this stage: wet, uneven, slippery and normal.
On smooth, dry roads the tyre pressures would go up and the rim width would shrink for a large overall reduction in rolling resistance. The opposites would happen on slippery surfaces, with tyre pressures of less than one bar possible for crawling out of awkward resting places in snow, for example.
The tyre that allows this to be possible is also previewed at the Frankfurt unveiling. Depending on what ContiSense and ContiAdapt are up to, especially the latter, the tyre’s different tread ‘zones’ are activated and the footprint changes. It would also use two of Continental’s other forward-thinking technologies: ContiSeal, for the ‘automatic sealing of punctures’, and ContiSilent, which is said to vastly reduce tyre roar.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Continental’s other future wheel concept from this year.