As many of our longstanding clients in the corporate, law enforcement and government/military sectors know, Tony Scotti’s Vehicle Dynamics Institute – more commonly known as VDI – is often called upon to test and evaluate the performance of various types of vehicles as well as aftermarket equipment that may impact that performance.
As it just so happens, earlier this year VDI was approached by the manufacturer of a run flat device which incorporates a number of innovative design concepts and elements which are intended to:
- alleviate issues common to operating a vehicle under normal conditions with most other types of run flat devices
- minimize the loss of critical performance capabilities that typically occur when operating a vehicle equipped with run flats on a deflated tire.
The manufacturer of this device, Flats Over, a Brazilian company with a global reach, was interested in VDI designing, developing and conducting a testing regimen that would objectively assess the devices performance capability in a manner that closely replicated the conditions in which those who might utilize such devices on their vehicles – to include corporate security departments, law enforcement agencies, government/military units, aftermarket vehicle armoring companies, commercial transportation service providers – anticipate having to rely on the devices to provide the driver with adequate control of the vehicle. Generally speaking, the circumstances and conditions that these folks, right down to the individual end users, are concerned with share some similarities with regard to vehicle, tire and run flat device performance, to include:
- the placement of rapidly increasing, dynamic loads on the vehicle and, coincidentally, the vehicles tires and, if so equipped, the run-flat devices themselves
- due to these increased loads, in conjunction with increased friction between the deflated tire and driving surface, tire temperatures near or at the upper limits of those allowed for by the design and composition of the tires
- the potential for catastrophic failure of the tire and/or run flat device due to these two factors, often aggravated by the transfer of material from the inner surface of a deflated tire to the device, in relatively short amounts of time and /or driving distance
It should be noted that VDI insisted on three conditions prior to performing the requested testing in order to ensure the independence and integrity of the process. First, VDI’s compensation for designing, developing and implementing the testing regimen would be strictly limited to covering the expenses of the test. Secondly, VDI would maintain editorial control of the report and, lastly, VDI would maintain the rights to publish the findings of the test regardless of the outcome. With those conditions firmly in place, we set out to determine how well this new device would perform under adverse conditions.
With each of the previously mentioned capabilities and issues in mind, VDI developed a testing regimen designed to create the conditions necessary to objectively evaluate the performance of a vehicle equipped with the Flats Over and being operated with a deflated tire, and directly compare that performance to the same vehicle operated in the same conditions with a deflated tire without the run flat device installed. The testing incorporated a series four exercises, each designed to subject the vehicle to either simple or compound loads, introduced to the vehicle in a manner that closely replicates the manner in which those loads would be introduced in a real world event. According to Joe Autera, VDI’s President & CEO, the results of the testing process, which was conducted in a sedan and an armored SUV, were both interesting and impressive.
To receive a copy of the full report and learn more about how the Flats Over run flat device performed in VDI’s testing regimen complete form below.