Bridgestone has invested around €3 million into a new wet handling track at its European Proving Ground (EUPG) based near Rome, Italy.
The tyre maker says the new track, designed in a virtual environment ahead of construction, provides the ability to test premium tyres in varied weather conditions to ensure optimal wet performance.
To further refine the requirements for maximum testing capabilities at the wet handling track, Bridgestone says it worked in collaboration with partners, including both new EV players and traditional vehicle manufacturers.
Analysing feedback and data collected from vehicle manufacturers and EUPG drivers, as well as creating virtual simulations and taking a modular approach with separate areas of design and development – such as the new surface, enhanced layout and more efficient water management – helped Bridgestone to create the state-of-the-art facility.
The surface of the track was designed in association with Pisa University, incorporating carefully selected aggregates that are more resilient to wear.
This is said to be particularly beneficial when it comes to consistency over time, helping to deliver constant friction and enhanced grip levels that make it easier to evaluate the overall performance of tyres.
Bridgestone says the track’s cutting-edge layout results in a number of benefits, including: Dynamic transient conditions with combined inputs and more on/off throttle operation; the possibility to perform slalom tests using the fast chicane and the ability to drive in either direction; more combined accelerations and evident longitudinal accelerations than the original layout (acceleration & braking).
Bridgestone claims that these results combined allow it to develop and test premium tyres that match the requirements and demands of customers.
While virtual development of the track helped create the best possible configuration, Bridgestone says it also offered significant sustainability benefits, since the process allows for a more efficient use of resources.
It boasts that a new water system utilising 6km of piping can move water back to a four million litre reservoir, helping to recycle up to 90 per cent of water and further reducing the environmental impact of the new facility.
Safety at the wet handling track is high on the agenda, according to Bridgestone, with Argex – a clay material – placed in run-off areas helping to reduce stopping distances where most necessary.
The tyre maker says its new wet handling track presented the opportunity to improve the entire EUPG security management, with the introduction of a new EUPG Safety Management System.
It says the new system allows for fully digital and automated control of the tracks at the facility: test drivers can be informed in real time with safety prevention warnings, which are also shown on a screen through visual dashboards and enforced with automatic voice messages to ensure they can focus fully on driving, while still receiving crucial safety information.
Other new features include digital access to all tracks at the facility by registered permissions, along with virtual gates to help manage specific areas.
Emilio Tiberio, COO & CTO of Bridgestone EMIA, said the opening of the new wet handling track will “ultimately” improve driver safety.
“By providing our customers and partners with different testing environments, including new road surfaces and conditions, we’re able to better address the seasonal effects on tyre grip level, which ultimately improves safety for drivers.
“And while safety is of the utmost importance to us as a business, sustainability is too – that’s why we are continually evolving our processes to reduce resource consumption in order to have a more positive effect on people and planet,” he said.