The role of the tyre is changing. While the optimisation of dynamic performance in all running conditions will continue to underlie everything, the predictions pointing in our future to increasingly “intelligent” cars tending more and more to be driverless, are opening up new scenarios.
Goodyear, for example, has developed the IntelliGrip Urban and Eagle 360 Urban concepts, designed for autonomous, driverless vehicles. An essential feature here is Sensor-in-Tyre technology, i.e. with an internal sensor, which makes it possible to better evaluate road conditions and the tyres themselves, transmitting data to the vehicle’s CPU. This takes care of optimising speed, braking, road-holding and stability. It is also possible to interact with other vehicles and plan tyre maintenance.
But it might also be the shape that is changing. Again from Goodyear here is the spherical Eagle 360 Urban: it comes with artificial intelligence, a morphing tread and a “bionic skin” obtained with a super-elastic polymer whose flexibility is similar to human skin and deploys a network of sensors that pick up information about the surrounding environment. The outer layer covers a foam-like material; internal actuators work as muscles and, thanks to an electrical input, change the shape of the individual sections that make up the tread pattern depending on the type of road surface. In the event of a puncture, a “self healing” process starts during which chemical compounds flow towards the damage.
Goodyear Eagle 360 Urban
And talking about “smart” tyres with original shapes, here is the Michelin Vision concept that incorporates the circle and is connected to the vehicle. It is made from biodegradable materials and uses a tread deposited directly on the wheel without vulcanisation. The lattice circle carries out the normal structural functions of the traditional tyre, without air. Special slits between tread and rim allow water to drain out during rotation. In addition, the tread can be modified using a 3D printer depending on the conditions it will be used in.
As a corollary of this, the use of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) connection allows you to manage the adjustment parameters of running dynamics and tread maintenance and regeneration operations.
Goodyear IntelliGrip Urban
Too much future? Let’s return to the present and Pirelli that, playing on aesthetics and technology, is offering a coloured version of the P Zero and Winter Sottozero models, in addition to the “Pirelli connected” platform. The coloured tyre was born out of Pirelli’s experience in Formula 1 where, since 2011, the language of colour has indicated the compound, while in this case it is only a matter of aesthetics. The first specimens have debuted on Pagani, Lamborghini, and McLaren models and on the Charlotte concept by Frangivento. As from the summer they are also available for Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and Bentley. The basic colours are white, red, yellow and silver; but you can also choose from the huge Pantone catalogue.
“Pirelli Connected” is a platform that uses a tyre-integrated sensor to send information to the user to optimise comfort, safety and consumption. The sensor is connected to the Pirelli Cloud and a smartphone app. Currently, the system recognises the product’s ID code and measures pressure, temperature also when the vehicle is stationary, vertical load, wear and mileage covered. It will also soon be possible to control the pressure remotely when the vehicle is parked.