MegaRide is born in 2016 as a spin-off company of the Vehicle Dynamics research group of University Federico II, with the aim to develop innovative methodologies to test, analyze and digitalize the behavior of the vehicle at its interaction with the road. It means, mainly, working on tires and on the comprehension of the complex phenomena arising at their contact with the ground.

Today, the company became a technological holding, involving more than 30 people and incubating projects in the field of vehicular engineering coming from scientific research.

Interview with Flavio Farroni, Applied Mechanics and Vehicle Dynamics assistant professor at University of Naples | CEO & Co-Founder of MegaRide | COO & Co-Founder of VESevo.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Flavio Farroni: The company started its path working with motorsport teams, traditionally pushing on innovations at a very high competitive level. Our main partners, since the beginning, are teams from Formula 1 (we currently interact with 5 of the 10), Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula E, NASCAR, MotoGP and from many more racing categories. 

Motorsport is a pioneering lab for tech evolutions, that our team progressively moved towards new applications. Automotive companies adopting driving simulators request our models to reproduce the real physical behavior of tires, mobility providers co-develop with our controls group the algorithms used onboard of vehicles to evaluate road and adherence conditions, tire manufacturers use our devices and software to monitor the quality of their production and to study new tread designs and compounds.

E.E: What are the ranges of products and what’s the news about new products?

F.F: In the last years, we developed a modular modelling platform, allowing to our users to test, analyze and reproduce tires behavior, from dynamic, kinematic, thermodynamic, frictional and tribological point of view. Each different user can create his own virtual tire, assembling the software packages related to the physical phenomena he is interested to focus on.

Within such scenario, we recently introduced a very interesting and novel approach to the modelling of wear and degradation phenomena, leading to the development of our new software, weaRIDE, interacting with the other physical modules, enhancing the level of realism and reliability of the simulations run by users adopting our solutions, taking into account the role of tread thickness reduction in tire grip and thermodynamics.

Next to it, we are pushing on the spread of our new hardware device, called VESevo, a sort of portable gun able to characterize, in completely nondestructive way, the viscoelasticity of rubber materials. Such project gave birth, two years ago, to a new company of the MegaRide holding, growing much faster than expected, due to the huge interest towards such disruptive testing technology, from both motorsport teams and tiremakers.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

F.F: We work on several different markets, as illustrated. Motorsport is a very active one, and the continuous new challenges that such context offers, due to changes in technologies and regulations, are one of the great reasons for which we keep being on the cutting edge of the innovation in vehicle simulations. And there’s not more severe context than motorsport, to validate your technologies. If they work, your partner wins. If not, they lose, no middle ways (and, luckily, our partners are winning in a lot of categories).

Next to it, the automotive OEMs are living a real revolution, due to electrification and autonomous driving perspectives. Such themes are pushing simulations towards a higher level, linked to the need to run algorithms and physical models, useful for the real-time evaluation of the vehicle, road and tires conditions, onboard of new mobility platforms.

Finally, we use to work on potentially high growth side markets, as E-sport, progressively getting closer, in terms of simulations realism and tech requests, to the real motorsport. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

F.F: The perspective of the automotive industry to work reducing the necessity of expensive physical testing and prototypes is the key towards the extensive use of vehicle simulations and of driving simulators. But if we really want that simulations become as reliable as real testing, we need that the most complex aspects of physical reality are well understood and reproduced. Among them, one of the greatest challenges, concerns the modelling of tire/road interaction, on which many companies are investing time and money.

A proper digitalization of tires, and in general a better comprehension of friction mechanisms and of rubber materials properties, will lead to safer vehicles, more sustainable mobility and to improvements in the algorithms under development for connected and autonomous driving.

The activities carried out by MegaRide and by our new company VESevo are growing so fast because they are based on a purely physical approach. Thanks to our scientific background and to the close relationship with the academic research facilities, we are able to investigate, with proprietary nondestructive methods, the effects linked to the phenomena involved in automotive and motorsport, reproducing them in real-time. Till now, in simulations and desktop applications. In the next 5 years, onboard of the future vehicles CPUs.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

F.F: One of our most innovative software is, for sure, TRICK, which is able to use the data acquired from the vehicle standard sensors to characterize tires behavior and road friction, employing the vehicle itself as a sort of “moving lab”. It is widely used bot by racing teams and automotive players.

Together with it, our tire simulation platform, called RIDEsuite, has definitely changed the approach to tire modelling. It has been conceived with full modularity and compliance to the market standards, so that any user can select his own physical packages and implement them inside his simulation chain, customizing in an easy and smart way the virtual tire he’s working with.

But probably the greatest innovation we developed is in our hardware device VESevo, that started its path as a tool to understand tires in motorsport, and that today, after some evolutions patented all over the world, is becoming a technology for the real-time quality control of rubber goods during their production.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2022?

F.F: 2022 will end as our most successful year, both in terms of revenues and team growth. In the last months our companies funded 4 PhD scholarships, focused on highly innovative and strategic topics we will invest on in next years.

Such vision confirms, in our opinion, the intrinsic strength of startup projects born from technological transfer initiatives, able to bring to the market ideas born already living in the future. 

MegaRide and VESevo grew with no need of external private capitals, despite many interactions with funds interested to get equity, and it was possible thanks to their capability to generate revenues since the first day, totally re-investing them for an organic and progressive growth.

We feel to be on a good wave, and many further projects are going to spin-off from our researches, in next years. The key to “keep our gradient”, as Prof. B. Siciliano uses to say, is in the investment on young and talented people, coming from our academic environment, deeply believing that Naples can be a place to build innovation on a global scale.