Continental Develops Sensor to Adjust the Height For Buses

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Continental has developed a sensor that is able to measure the height and pressure of air springs using ultrasound.

With the Ultrasonic Height and Pressure Sensor (UHPS), it will be possible to adjust the height of vehicles electronically, thereby improving the efficiency of urban buses.

Thanks to their extremely heat-resistant material, the air springs featuring the sensor technology are equipped for use with current and future generations of engines. Continental is presenting the new development for the first time at the 67th IAA Commercial Vehicles in September in Hanover.

The new sensor technology minimizes energy losses and improves efficiency, particularly for urban buses. Drivers are constantly having to adjust the ride heights of their buses throughout the day due to speed bumps, uneven surfaces and height differences at bus stops. Up to now, this has generally been done mechanically and, for most vehicles, at a uniform ride height with only one possible target value. To lower one side of the bus at bus stops, the air had to be completely let out from the spring. With the UHP sensor, the air springs are now controlled electronically and automatically.

Using ultrasound, the sensor measures the current height and pressure in the air spring and sends the values to the electronic control unit, which automatically opens or closes the air spring valves. Target values are pre-set in the electronic control unit, and drivers can pre-select these values before they start to drive depending on whether they are driving in the city or on the freeway. Continuous monitoring between the control unit and the spring maintains an appropriate ride height, which means that the electromechanical control valve does not respond to every trigger. The advantage of this is that the height and pressure can be determined precisely. This function prevents energy from being lost unnecessarily when the bus is lowered or raised. With this solution for air springs, Continental is a pioneer in the market.

Meanwhile, the developers at the technology company are already thinking ahead. The next step is for the air springs to send signals via the sensor technology in the event of overload or faults, enabling anticipatory maintenance. This will reduce unforeseen defects and thus vehicle downtime, as well as the risk of accidents, which will improve road safety.

Continental is also a pioneer when it comes to material composition. Due to the larger exhaust systems of the low-emission Euro 6 engines, the air springs in urban buses are closer to the engine or other heat sources than before and are therefore exposed to extreme temperatures. The experts at Continental have developed a material that is heat-resistant – even under these conditions – specifically for this purpose. Thanks to this property, the air springs are able to withstand over two million load cycles despite the high temperatures.

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