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Safe and economical: Continental's intelligent accelerator pedal

Apr 21, 2009

Safe and economical: Continental's intelligent accelerator pedal

Initial results from Continental's study show that the Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal (AFFP®) can produce potential fuel savings of between 5 and 10 percent

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, April 21, 2009. The intelligent AFFP® accelerator pedal launched by the international automotive supplier Continental is a new technology that does more than just helping to prevent accidents. At a press conference in Frankfurt, Continental presented the results of several studies which show the system's excellent potential for making fuel savings of between 5 and 10 percent. Safe and economical: Continental's intelligent accelerator pedal The Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal is an accelerator pedal with an integral electric motor which alerts the driver by means of a sensory response whenever a particular traffic situation would make it more appropriate for him to ease off from the accelerator pedal a little or to shift up into the next higher gear. As an added bonus, the AFFP® also provides a warning in hazardous situations and issues immediate feedback, which the driver is able to register more quickly than, for example, any warning sounds or signs. "The intelligent accelerator pedal brings together Continental's know-how in the fields of engine management, sensors and driver assistance systems", stressed Dr. Peter Laier, Executive Vice President of the Chassis Components Business Unit in Continental's Chassis & Safety Division. "Our AFFP® offers vehicle manufacturers an additional technology for implementing ambitious CO2 reduction targets."

The study demonstrates that AFFP® has excellent savings potential

Trial runs by 40 test drivers over 70 kilometers of country roads, undertaken by Continental in 2006 during the initial development phase as part of Project Gerico (Gestion de l'EneRgie par Interface COnducteur, energy management with man-machine interface), demonstrated that excellent savings were possible just by making optimum use of the accelerator pedal. Drivers who had attended an eco-training course saved on average 11 percent of fuel compared with standard drivers, although they took just six minutes longer (76 instead of 70 minutes). Further fuel savings were achieved when a visual eco-display indicated to the driver the best moment for gearshifting or when to take his foot off the pedal. This produced an additional 5 percent of savings (for three minutes extra time).

The conclusion drawn was that whereas a visual display obliges the driver to concentrate on the display, he receives the same information from the AFFP® in such a way that he intuitively acts upon it. This means that the driver is able to follow the system's recommendations more frequently and further fuel savings of a comparable magnitude are possible.

These results were confirmed by another study in 2008 during the second phase of development. Everyday traffic situations were recreated in a driving simulator. "Our intelligent accelerator pedal offers really excellent savings potential, especially in urban traffic", explained Dr. Laier. Driving with AFFP® at a constant 50 km/h is 5.6 percent more economical; but even when accelerating from 0 to 50, the pedal helps by indicating the optimum moment to shift gears and uses 1.3 percent less fuel. In mixed driving conditions, such as nose-to-tail traffic including stop-and-go, a vehicle fitted with AFFP® actually used 55 percent less fuel and almost 46 percent less when cruising with the general traffic flow; and when the speed limit over a short stretch dropped from 100 to 50 and then rose again to 100 km/h, it was still 39 percent less than a vehicle with no intelligent accelerator pedal fitted. To achieve this, the accelerator pedal uses external data, for example from the ACC, the GPS or the speed limit monitoring system.

The differences become most obvious when the vehicle is coasting and slowing down. In many cases, drivers press the accelerator quite unnecessarily even though the road ahead slopes gently downwards. Taking the foot slightly off the pedal will produce a significant reduction in consumption. This is particularly true if the driver can take his foot completely off the accelerator when coasting up to traffic lights. Many motorists fail to exploit deceleration fuel cut-off, a feature of every vehicle today, and keep their foot lightly on the accelerator pedal, burning yet more fuel. In this situation, AFFP® can achieve a 100 percent saving by making the driver take his foot right off the accelerator, thus reducing fuel consumption to zero over this distance.

Currently, Continental and another German institute are carrying out a further study into the effects of the intelligent accelerator pedal on consumption and, in particular, whether motorists are taking to the technology. "Of course, even with AFFP® on board, the driver remains in charge of events", stressed Dr. Laier. Those who like to drive in a sporty manner or who are under time pressure have the option of adjusting the AFFP® by selecting either an eco or a sports mode. The technology will be available in several levels of sophistication. The basic version will indicate the optimum moment to shift gear; other levels will have links to navigation, telematics and sensor data so as to optimize overall driving performance and to warn of hazardous situations.

Accelerator pedal with electric motor: the pedal gives immediate feedback

Hectic  Safe and economical: Continental's intelligent accelerator pedal  driving not only increases the risk of accident, it also drives up fuel consumption. Even in heavy traffic, the Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal helps drivers to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front and to maintain as constant a speed as possible. The system uses information from the various vehicle sensors, identifies the best speed for staying with the flow of the traffic, and indicates to the driver that if he were to accelerate any more, he would be exceeding the optimum speed range. The result is that the vehicle keeps to an even engine speed; excessive use of the brake and accelerator is avoided.  In contrast to stop-and-go driving, this not only spares the driver's nerves but also noticeably reduces fuel consumption and, consequently, CO2 emissions.

The driver can be alerted in a variety of ways, either by the pedal gently vibrating or pulsating or by exerting a counterpressure against his foot. Precisely how this is achieved will depend on each vehicle manufacturer's individual design philosophy. Different messages can also be introduced; for example, a pulsating pedal for warnings of hazards and a slight counterpressure for an instruction to drive so as to save fuel.

The central mechanical feature of the tly by the driver's foot, making him aware of the situation in the quickest and most reliable way so that he can react accordingly. This applies both to the intelligent guidance given to the driver to use the accelerator pedal as efficiently as possible and to hazardous situations when the AFFP® requests the driver to brake or at least to pay greater attention.

Series production

The Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal is already on the market and available in one Japanese manufacturer's model. It can be installed in any vehicle, being suitable for both suspended and floor-mounted pedal arrangements. The AFFP® can also be installed in small vans and commercial vehicles not just to reduce costs but as a road safety measure, since inadequate vehicle spacing and overtired drivers are the most frequent causes of accidents with both vans and trucks.

Additional road safety benefits: AFFP® helps prevent accidents

AFFP® is an additional element in Continental's ContiGuard® safety system and represents a further contribution to reducing the number of road traffic injuries, particularly as a result of rear-end collisions. Excessive speed, inadequate vehicle distance and inattention are the main reasons for such accidents. By integrating AFFP® into future vehicle systems, the active accelerator pedal can make a valuable contribution to vehicle safety in a variety of other dangerous situations. If a breakdown or an accident occurs where visibility is restricted and if this is reported electronically by Car-2-Car communication, the AFFP® will respond and similarly if the sensors in the vehicle register that the driver is clearly struggling not to fall asleep. "This sensory warning at the accelerator pedal, the classic man-machine-interface, is a clear road safety gain", stresses Dr. Laier.


Press  Release  (Word, 77.5KB)

Press Image of the AFFP and an image of how the AFFP helps to prevent accidents


Nicole Geissler

External Communications


Division Chassis & Safety

Guerickestraße 7

60488 Frankfurt am Main

Tel.: +49 69 7603-8492

Fax: +49 69 7603-3945