Pirelli has announced a milestone in its tire development program with the opening of the Virtual Development Centre (VDC) at the tire maker’s Breuberg site in Germany. The site employs around 2,500 people, including 250 development engineers. The VDC will enable virtual tire development and testing and is expected to yield multiple advantages for Pirelli and its OEM customers in the automotive industry. Tire development time is expected to be reduced by up to 30%, and the number of physical prototypes is expected to be up to 30% less. In addition, Pirelli says that as part of the virtual tire development process, the driving simulator to achieve increasingly more precise results than traditional methods.
“In our VDC, we can develop tires for cars that don’t yet exist in reality, but that are provided to us by car manufacturers in the form of digital models,” explained Thomas Michel, chief technology officer at Pirelli Germany. “Artificial intelligence and neural networks play an important role in this innovative tire development. This is because they speed up the development of virtual tire models enormously. What used to take hours or even days is now often completed in just a few seconds. It’s sort of a virtual tire factory.”
Pirelli engineers can enter virtual versions of all vehicle models provided by the car manufacturers into the simulator. Test drives then begin with the virtual tire models. The engineers see how the vehicle behavior is affected or should be affected by steering, acceleration and braking interventions on the virtual vehicle.
“The VDC, including the simulator, supports all virtual project phases for German car manufacturers,” added Florian Waffenschmidt, head of the VDC. “We virtually test tires for combustion engines as well as our tires with Elect technology for electric cars and plug-in hybrids.”
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