German engineering is renowned worldwide for its quality and sophistication, and nowhere is this more evident than with Continental tyres. We launched the first automobile tyre with a patterned tread in 1904, over 115 years ago, and then added carbon black filler to make tyres tougher and more duraable.
This inventive spirit continues at Contintental with every new product we create. Highlights of our engineering prowess include the first introduction of anti-skid tyres for better grip and handling in winter; the first high quality cord tyre on the German market; the first patents filed in Germany for a tubeless tyre; and early adoption for the mass production of radial tyres for high durability and fuel efficiency. These innovations have enabled car handling that's more safe and reliable, regardless of the condition of the road.
Furthermore, the Continental brand has been involved with some of the greatest feats in adventure and exploration. In 1901, the first Daimler-produced car to be called Mercedes achieved a sensational victory in the Nice-Salon-Nice car race using Continental brand pneumatic tyres.
Later in 1909, pioneer aviator Louis Blériot made history with the first flight across the English Channel. Specimens of synthetic rubber developed at Bayer Laboratories for the flight were successfully vulcanized at Continental and processed to make the first test tyres.
Looking to the future of tyre technology, Contintental has been comprehensively testing automated driving since 2012 in the U.S. state of Nevada. A highly automated Continental test vehicle has covered 15,000 miles of public roads so far — without any accidents.
The heart of our engineering division can be found in Hanover, Germany. Our research facility is home to the enormous test race track, the Contidrom, which has tested over 1.3 million tyres since opening in 1967.
The Contidrom drives progress in tyre development in conjunction with Continental’s R&D activities by documenting the performance characteristics of the tyres out on the track. And of course, this makes an important contribution to greater road safety.
From the outset, the test engineers at the Contidrom have defined standards that are applied to our tyre testing activities around the world, enabling findings to be uniformly interpreted and communicated throughout Continental. Over the years they have repeatedly come up with new and pioneering test procedures. Back in the mid-1970s for example, a driverless Type /8 Mercedes car made endless laps of the oval while completing a variety of tests.
The most recent addition to the Contidrom test facilities is the AIBA, which was opened in 2012. In this all-weather condition test facility, up to 100,000 braking tests a year are conducted on dry, wet, and even icy road surfaces. Thanks to the extremely precise findings delivered by the AIBA, Continental has made further progress in the development of passenger car, van and SUV tyres for summer and winter.
The AIBA facility is housed in a hall 300 m long and up to 30 m wide. Inside the hall, a driverless test vehicle can be accelerated to speeds of up to 115 km/h fully automatically, then braked to a standstill by a robot on various standardised road surfaces (which can be exchanged with the aid of hydraulics).
Every new test at our facility follows one simple purpose -- to make driving safer for our customers and our manufacturer partners. In addition, we can draw upon the collective expertise of over 1,000 hard-working scientists, engineers and designers in Europe and the US.
Ultimately, Continental is a celebration of more than engineering from Germany, but engineering expertise that spans the globe.