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Continental developing aquaplaning warning system with cameras and tire sensors

Technology company Continental is working on an automatic system to warn of the risk of aquaplaning. An initial production of the technology, which is currently in predevelopment, is conceivable in a next generation of vehicles, according to the Continental technology experts. The hardware and software for the aquaplaning warning is being developed by Continental engineers in Frankfurt, Hanover and Toulouse.

Aquaplaning occurs when the tread cannot quickly enough deflect the water from the road. To detect this excessive water displacement, Continental relies on images from the surround-view cameras. These wide-angle cameras are installed both in the side mirrors, the grill, and on the rear of the Continental development vehicles.

When there is a lot of water on the road, the camera images show a specific splash and spray pattern from the tires that can be detected as aquaplaning in its early phase.

—Bernd Hartmann, project manager at Continental in Frankfurt

In addition to the camera data, Continental also plans to use information from the tires to identify the risk of aquaplaning. Here, the sensor signals will be analyzed directly in the tires.

We use the accelerometer signal from the electronic-Tire Information System (eTIS) to look for a specific signal pattern.

—Andreas Wolf, head of Continental’s Body & Security business unit

As the eTIS sensor can also identify the tire’s remaining tread, this data can be used to determine a safe speed for specific wet road conditions and pass this on to the driver.

Testing has shown that future aquaplaning assistance will also have the potential to intervene in an actual aquaplaning situation by applying the rear brakes in a controlled way to establish a degree of torque vectoring in order to maintain vehicle maneuverability within physical limits.

In future, it will be possible to evaluate all sensor data in a central vehicle computer for the aquaplaning warning system. If the system detects a danger at the current speed, the driver will be notified of a safe speed. Vehicles that are still far behind a potential aquaplaning spot can be informed of the danger immediately via the vehicle-to-vehicle communication and the digital map based on the electronic horizon. This is how the traffic control systems also receive information about relevant danger areas.

The aquaplaning warning system is especially important for automated vehicles, Continental notes—automated vehicles must avoid aquaplaning situations without human driving experience.

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