At the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show this week, Goodyear is showing what the tyres of the near future could look like with the Intelligrip Urban and Eagle 360 Urban concept tyres.
On-demand transportation – or ride-sharing – as an alternative to taxis, rental cars, or actual driving is no longer just the choice of millennials. The value in convenience of immediacy, location and payment is appealing to all demographics and is bringing ride-sharing services into the mainstream. The trend toward urban life creates an ideal environment for the adoption of these new modes of transportation.
The IntelliGrip Urban is specially designed for the coming generation of autonomous electric ride-sharing vehicles in urban areas. Presently at concept stage, the IntelliGrip Urban, with its advanced Sensor-in-Tyre technology, is a smart tyre designed to support autonomous vehicle control systems and enhance passenger safety. The tyre senses road and weather conditions. By gathering this critical data and sending it directly to the vehicle’s computer system, it enables the car to optimize speed, braking, handling and stability.
Future-generation autonomous fleets will be operating in a complex environment, with other vehicles, drivers, pedestrians and data from all of the elements making up the Internet of Things. Tyres such as the Goodyear IntelliGrip Urban could play a critical role in this evolving ecosystem.
Furthermore, fleet operators will benefit from the tyre’s tall and narrow shape, which reduces rolling resistance to increase energy efficiency and range of electrical vehicle fleets in an urban environment.
The IntelliGrip Urban’s sensor technology also offered Proactive Maintenance, allowing operators to precisely identify and resolve tyre-related issues before they happen.
“With a focus on vehicles for future urban areas, the IntelliGrip Urban concept tyre’s technical features aim to maximize uptime and energy efficiency. This is crucial for ‘Mobility as a Service’ providers to offer improved mobility to their customers,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, President of Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa.
In an evolving mobility ecosystem defined by the transition to driverless vehicles and shared mobility in urban centres, Goodyear aims to revolutionize the interaction between tyres, vehicles and their surroundings. With the Eagle 360 Urban concept tyre, it achieves this. The 3-D printed sphere is the first concept tyre to be powered by Artificial Intelligence and able to sense, decide, transform and interact.
“A revolution will take place at the intersection of autonomy, mobility and connectivity. As this unfolds, tyre technology will be even more important than it is today. To safely navigate their surroundings, the autonomous vehicles of the future will need to learn to cope with the millions of possible unknowns we face in every day driving scenarios. To do so, they will need access to data and the ability to learn and adapt,” said Mr. Kihn.
Last year, with the Eagle 360 concept tyre, Goodyear presented a unique, multi-directional sphere to match the demands of autonomous driving through increased levels of comfort, safety and maneuverability. The positive feedback received encouraged the manufacturer to take this concept even further.
This year, the Eagle 360 Urban is pushing the boundaries again, aiming to illustrate a vision of how the future could look. With Artificial Intelligence, Goodyear is giving the tyre a ‘brain’. Combined with a bionic skin and morphing tread, the Eagle 360 Urban has the ability to put knowledge into practice. The tyre will become part of the vehicle’s ‘nervous system’ and the connected world of the Internet of Things. That way, it is ready to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances, as well as the evolving needs of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) for fleets and their users.
The bionic skin with a sensor network allows the tyre to self-check its own status and gather information on its environment, including the road surface. Via connectivity with other vehicles as well as infrastructure, traffic and mobility management systems, the Eagle 360 Urban also captures information on its surroundings in real-time.
By combining these sources of information and processing them instantaneously using neural networks trained with deep learning algorithms, the Eagle 360 Urban decides the most appropriate course of action. And the Artificial Intelligence also learns from previous actions how to optimize future responses.
Made of super-elastic polymer, the bionic skin has a flexibility similar to that of human skin, allowing it to expand and contract. This outer layer covers a foam-like material that is strong enough to remain flexible despite the weight of a vehicle. Thanks to this flexibility, actuator elements beneath the tyre’s surface, which are components that change shape with an electrical input, working like human muscles, can re-shape the individual sections of the tyre’s tread design, adding ‘dimples’ for wet conditions or smoothing the tread for dry conditions. A new tread with a safer contact patch is thus deployed.
Using this morphing tread, the Eagle 360 Urban transforms and adapts to changing road and weather conditions. The tyre can then interact to share the information it has captured, the related action and its success with other vehicles and all of the elements making up the Internet of Things.
When the bionic skin is damaged, the sensors in the tread can locate the puncture. The tyre then rotates to create a different contact patch. This reduces pressure on the puncture and allows the self-healing process to start. The self-healing works, thanks to materials which are specifically designed to be able to flow towards the puncture. They react physically and chemically with each other to form new molecular bonds, closing the puncture.
This new generation of tyres will create added value for carmakers and the evolving providers of MaaS by maximizing uptime and providing proactive maintenance. For the everyday commuter, they will offer an improved experience by adding a new dimension to the safety performance and learning capabilities of autonomous driving.