HILTON HEAD, S.C.—Technological innovations at major tire companies, especially those dealing with "big data" and tire-vehicle connectivity, are quickly making autonomous vehicles a reality, according to executives with Continental Tire the Americas and Goodyear speaking at the recent Clemson University Global Tire Industry Conference.
Continental Tire's contribution to the issue includes ContiSense and ContiAdapt, said Mauricio Mendez Sotelo, manager, technical product specialist, R&D, passenger and light truck tires, for Continental.
"The tire needs to be able to sense the road," Mr. Mendez said. Conti's vision, he said, is ContiSense, an innovative concept with an intelligent tire and rim, sensing relevant tire data and using them to adapt to the surrounding driving conditions.
ContiSense monitors the tire's status based on the electrification of rubber, and ContiAdapt shifts the tire's footprint to the detected road condition or the driver's preference via a modular wheel that can change its width and adjust the tire's air pressure, he said.
"This concept tire enables the benefits of this advanced technology by offering an optimized pattern design," Mr. Mendez said.
Through ContiSense and ContiAdapt, the tire itself becomes a sensor, detecting punctures and tread depth, according to Mr. Mendez.
"By understanding the conductive characteristics of rubber, signals can be transported within the structure of the tire," he said. "Integrated sensors detect and transport data via Bluetooth to a back-end system for further processing and interpretation."
The tire footprint is the only connection between the vehicle and the road, according to Mr. Mendez.
"Even though it only has the size of a smartphone, it is responsible for the driver's safety," he said. "Different road conditions ask for specific tire safety features. The next generation of intelligent tires would ensure safe and comfortable driving in any condition."