5G makes tyres smarter

Published on 14/07/2020 in Bits & Bytes

5G makes tyres smarter

5G is usually associated with smartphones, not tyres. And yet it's not inconceivable that the market soon sees cyber tyres that will tell you everything about the condition of the road surface and the condition of your tyres. Tire pressure? Temperature? Check!

In 2019, the famous Italian tire-maker Pirelli tested the first version of the ‘Cyber Tire’. Thanks to 5G technology drivers get tons of real time information. Tyres have been monitored for quite some time in the transport sector, but this is the first time the technology becomes available for the public.

The first cyber tire in the world features a sensor, processor and a communication-center the size of a coin that constantly measures variables. Contrary to standard tyres, there’s also an internal accelerometer that indicates the force on the tire while driving. Apart from that, the tire ‘feels’ road conditions like water, ice or a surface with less traction. The driver also gets updates about their condition: wear, temperature, mileage, etc.

More security, better communication

The data processed by the tire, makes self-driving vehicles much safer. Smart tyres allow for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication and communication with other applications in the Internet of Things (V2X). Classic rubber tyres will be, in other words, crucial elements in a larger eco system of traffic management and road safety.

A self-driving car that is confronted with ice on the road can send out warnings to other road users, pedestrians or traffic signalization in vicinity. Road signs could temporarily indicate a new maximum speed. The tyres are the only part of the car that is directly connected to the road. So sensors provide useful information that one probably doesn’t get any other way.

Today, all cars are equipped with ABS and electronic stability control that is automatically activated when a tire loses grip. Cyber tyres will improve this kind of driving assistance systems by adjusting them pro-actively or automatically slow down with changing road conditions. Aquaplaning would be a thing of the past: using real time data, the driving conditions are immediately adjusted.

Cyber Tyres in Formula 1

Pirelli is also developing this technology for the racing circuit. In the highest regions of Formula 1, cars are already being equipped with more than 140 sensors. Tire temperature has a huge influence on traction and the safety of a race car. Cyber tyres measure temperature and downforce in real time, which not only allows for more safety, but also better driving: race pilots know exactly what they need to improve.

For now, cyber tyres are still in the stage of development. Het is impossible to predict when the technology will hit the market. The development of V2V and V2X systems especially, needs a lot more effort. But chances are great we will see more and more smart tyres buy the end of the decade. You’d almost long for days full of ice and snow to make your cyber tyres shine.

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