Easyrain, an automotive startup that has developed technologies for restoring vehicle traction on wet roads, has entered into a partnership with global automotive supplier, Marelli, to industrialise the designs.
Easyrain’s technologies include the Aquaplaning Intelligent Solution (AIS), a system for restoring vehicle traction on wet roads, including aquaplaning conditions; and Digital Aquaplaning Information (DAI), a platform of virtual sensors that detect road conditions and calibrate the ADAS accordingly.
The systems have been developed with the EU’s goal of achieving zero road fatalities by 2050, an ambitious goal set in 2021. However, Easyrain says that while road deaths have been decreasing, data analysis shows that the rate of decline has been slowing, driven by critical situations such as accidents on wet roads.
The company highlights a statistic from the European Commission’s preliminary data on road fatalities for 2022, which found that, in cities, 19% of road deaths occur during wet conditions. Easyrain also cites figures that incidents on highly wet roads and aquaplaning conditions, are responsible for 212,000 injuries and fatalities each year in Europe alone.
The agreement with Marelli is a milestone in Easyrain’s 2023-2030 industrial plan which, in addition to having goals for the research and development of new products, also aims to launch AIS on the market in late 2025, and DAI in mid-2027. The partnership follows other recent successes for the company, including receiving the Most Innovative Road Safety Technology Developer 2023 award from Success Knocks, and growing interest from automakers, with a recent agreement with a third car manufacturer for the creation of a technology Proof of Concept aimed at production.
As part of the collaboration, Marelli will focus on industrialising the AIS system’s evolution (named Proto-B), in compliance with automotive industry production standards. Easyrain says that AIS Proto-B, due to be validated in July 2024, meets carmakers’ production demands, and that it will be as significant for the automotive industry as the introduction of ABS and ESP.
How AIS works
The Aquaplaning Intelligent Solution (AIS) features small nozzles hidden in the car bumper, which in wet conditions (as detected by the DAI software) spray a controlled jet of water ahead of the front wheels to remove excess water from the road, thus re-establishing traction. AIS can spray liquid on only one side of the vehicle to counteract any yaw rotation caused by puddles affecting either the left or right wheel. Easyrain claims that the precision of detection and the system speed mean that no additional water reservoir is required for the system, as it can simply make use of “tiny amounts” of water from the standard windshield washer tank.
The active AIS system is unique as it operates directly on the road rather than on the vehicle. AIS also enables the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) to function in conditions where they otherwise wouldn’t, allowing vehicles to handle puddles and aquaplaning situations safely.
The next steps
Easyrain’s R&D division is also working on an evolution of AIS, capable of restoring traction not only in cases of loss of control on wet roads, but also in snowy, icy or loose surface conditions. These systems would be suitable for both present-day and future autonomous vehicles.
As part of the partnership, Marelli will also produce the electronics for the DAI advanced virtual sensor platform for detecting wet roads. The platform won’t require an internet connection or additional sensors, as it will be calibrated with a vehicle’s ADAS and assisted and autonomous driving technologies.
DAI can also detect irregularities in the vehicle’s alignment and notify the vehicle of any misalignment in the characteristic wheel angles (camber and toe).
An additional safety feature currently under development is intended to prevent the potential loss of a wheel. In the event of a loosening of the wheel fastening nuts, micro-vibrational phenomena can occur, causing the nut to become loose. The R&D team is working on ways for DAI to be able to detect these situations and alert the vehicle.
Giovanni Blandina, founder and CEO of Easyrain, said of the Marelli deal: “I am delighted with how Marelli’s team opened up to us, both from a technical and ethical standpoint, fully embracing our mission and our vision regarding the market potential of our products.
“Our next goal is to develop the Proto-B version of the AIS system. I have no doubts about Marelli’s technical capabilities in making it an extraordinary product in terms of performance, as well as lightweight and cost-effective. With a prestigious partner like Marelli by our side, Easyrain can undoubtedly look further into the future and confidently take a seat at the table of automakers.”
Francesco Miticocchio, Marelli’s VP of strategic planning, technology & innovation added: “The technology that Easyrain has developed, the AIS system, fits perfectly with one of the strategic pillars of Marelli: vehicle dynamics. We are investing to consolidate our positioning as a solution provider in vehicle dynamics, where more and more functions are being developed – also cross-domain – thanks to the increasing presence of electronics in the vehicle. Safety, security, comfort, agility and energy management are new vehicle dynamics features that complement the traditional [factors of] acceleration and speed. The AIS system is a key safety element that we are very happy to bring to market in partnership with Easyrain.”
Miticocchio explained that after the initial general discussions with Giovanni Blandina, Easyrain’s CEO, Marelli mobilised its technical team to work with the team at Easyrain. “It was very clear from the start that Easyrain had a very precise understanding of what they were able to do and what they needed from us. As it turned out, we were perfectly complementary: Easyrain had already spent a significant amount of time to conceive the AIS concept, basic configuration and algorithms, while Marelli has a long and consolidated experience in the design and industrialisation optimisation of many key components for the system itself. It has taken only a few months for our teams to really integrate and start moving fast towards the Proto B.”