Rain, as every South African driver knows, brings with it a host of additional on-road dangers, not the least of which is aquaplaning when heavy rain outweighs the drainage capability of the road surface and leaves large stretches of water.
Coventry University researchers are hoping to save lives through a new device they have developed to prevent vehicles from aquaplaning and losing traction control due to adverse road conditions.
Professor Mike Blundell and Ravi Ranjan from Coventry University’s Research Centre for Future Transport and Cities have produced the Run Dry Traction System (RDTS) following a two-year research project.
The prototype product aims to prevent aquaplaning and loss of traction in a variety of road conditions. Aquaplaning, also referred to as hydroplaning, happens when a layer of surface water builds up between a vehicle’s tyres and the road surface, leading to a complete loss of grip. This can occur with as little as 2-3 mm of standing water on the road surface when vehicles are travelling at a variety of speeds and is a leading cause of road traffic accidents.
The RDTS presents a novel potential solution to aquaplaning and the loss of traction by preventing water and other contaminants from reaching the tyre. The device works by firing a jet of compressed gas close to the front of the wheel, removing surface water in front of the tyre to ensure the vehicle has a dry patch of road ahead. This effectively ensures grip is not compromised by road contaminants such as water, sand and gravel.
Professor Mike Blundell, Professor of Vehicle Dynamics and Impact at Coventry University, said: “Our tests demonstrate that RDTS has the potential to make a huge impact on vehicle safety in a whole host of conditions. The prospect of producing something that could even save lives on the road is extremely exciting and after some initial success with testing, we’re now eager to look into manufacturing potential and further research to take this concept to the next level.
“A device like this really could be the difference between life and death if it can help vehicles to stop safely within certain distances and that’s why we’re so keen to continue developing this concept.”
The RDTS has been designed to be fitted to a wide range of vehicles, including cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles and with further development, it could even have the potential to be used to improve aircraft ground operations and rail transport safety.