Pirelli says its new simulator, recently inaugurated at the company’s research and development division in Milan, will reduce tyre development time as well as the number of physical prototypes needed.

The simulator aims to accelerate development cycles and tyre testing, reducing lead times.

The Italian supplier maintains there is now a 30% reduction in average development time for new tyres, both for the road and motorsport, due to faster assessment of virtual prototypes produced for different car models.

The new simulator makes it possible for different development parameters to be remodelled rapidly, leading to a more rapid exchange of digital information between Pirelli and manufacturers.

Compared to traditional development methods the simulator allows a virtual model of any car – either supplied by the manufacturer or produced internally – to be quickly programmed into the system while joint design and development work can also be carried out on the manufacturer’s own simulator.

Advanced simulation has already been used for more than ten years during the design and development of Formula 1 and other motorsport tyres.

The simulator is produced by VI-grade and consists of a wrap-round 210-degree panoramic screen, 7.5 metres in diameter, which visually reproduces a wide range of different driving conditions, roads, and circuits.

At the heart of the system is a static car equipped with various active technologies to reproduce the sensations any driver would feel in a real car: through the seat, steering wheel, seat belts and different shaker systems, which replicate the movements of the suspension and engine.

The process is coordinated by a control room, which can programme the simulator to reproduce the different technical specifications of any tyre or car. The results are logged, measuring the interaction between the tyre and the ‘road,’ as well as all other parameters relevant to tyre behaviour. These can then be added to the subjective impressions felt by the test ‘driver.’

The important work carried out on this simulator can be integrated with the dynamic simulator project (designed to reproduce lateral and longitudinal accelerations, as well as rotations), which will be installed at Politecnico di Milano.

Pirelli has had a long collaboration with the institution, carrying out test work complementary to activities at the company’s own research and development centre in Milan.