There are a host of questions surrounding autonomous vehicles: What are the ethical questions involved? How will we make them safe? Will they end private car ownership? Will semi-autonomous vehicles still be relevant?
Here’s one that probably hasn’t occurred to you: What will their tires look like?
Well, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has an answer, with two new concept tires for autonomous vehicles.
The idea behind this design is a tire for the earlier adoption of self-driving cars.
Goodyear's Intelligrip Concept Tire.
The Intelligrip is designed to sense road surface and weather conditions and communicate that information to autonomous vehicle control systems.
For example, when the tire senses a rainy or slippery road surface, that information will be sent to the autonomous vehicle so that it can adapt its speed. According to Goodyear, the sensors will also enable the tire to shorten stopping distance, provide a better cornering response and even support collision prevention systems.
In addition, Goodyear has developed algorithms to account for variables such as inflation pressure and tire temperature. The company is now working with a number of vehicle manufacturers in an effort to enhance connectivity with various control systems.
If the Intelligrip is the first step toward autonomous vehicle tires, the Eagle-360 is a bold leap.
The Goodyear Eagle-360 Concept Tire.
The Eagle-360 ditches the traditional torus-shape for a spherical design, allowing the vehicle to move in any direction. The tires would rely on a magnetic levitation system to suspend the car.
Like the Intelligrip, the Eagle-360 is designed with embedded sensors that will communicate road and weather conditions to the vehicle’s control systems, but it also goes further by communicating with other nearby cars.
According to Goodyear, tire tread and pressure monitoring technology will regulate even wear of the tires, extending overall mileage. The tread itself is 3D-printed and mimics the pattern of brain coral so that it behaves like a natural sponge: it stiffens in dry conditions and softens when wet.
The Future of Tires?
Both concepts were unveiled at the 86th Geneva International Motor show.
“By steadily reducing the driver interaction and intervention in self-driving vehicles, tires will play an even more important role as the primary link to the road,” said Joseph Zekoski, Goodyear’s senior vice president and chief technical officer.
“Goodyear’s concept tires play a dual role in that future, both as creative platforms to push the boundaries of conventional thinking and as testbeds for next-generation technologies,” Zekoski added.
For more information, visit the Goodyear website.