Nothing can be more frustrating to a driver than having to pull over to fix a flat tyre. But thanks to technological advancements, all this will become just a memory. From the initial days of automobiles till now, tyres have seen many technological advances. There has been an improvement when it comes to raw materials and chemical compounds. All of which are done to improve the performance of the tyre.
Nowadays, high-performing tyres are more reliable and robust due to the innovations in sidewall design, tread patterns, and the entire tyre construction. But, the current types of vehicles have created a new set of challenges for tyre makers. It has put a lot of pressure on them to find better ways to link tyres to roads and upkeep facilities. Round Trip Tyres looks at emerging tyre trends over the coming years.
Electric Vehicles, Autonomous Vehicles, and AndGo
Electric cars present new challenges for manufactures. Tyre noise can be reduced by fine-tuning the construction, the tread pattern, and the contour design. “Take Tesla, for instance; we chose to add a foam inlay within the tyres to reduce road noise, and make them noiseless since EVs can be quiet and the tyres are audible.” Says Richard J. Kramer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company CEO. “At Goodyear, we continue to invent, from Electric Vehicles to Autonomous vehicles.”
In January, Goodyear publicized a new project capital fund. The company will be capitalizing up to a hundred million dollars in future motion resolutions over the following decade for both EVs and Avs. This means that there will be new materials and new mobility research.
Goodyear also announced a service dais that utilizes prognostic software to link fleets with their service network, known as AndGo. Currently, Goodyear is focusing their time and effort on researching all types of tyre notions and tyre materials that will help improve tyre performance.
And at the Goodyear Mcity Test Facility based in Michigan, there is ongoing research on EVs and Avs for smart tyres equipped with sensors. All this is done to connect the fleets to their service network through the AndGo service platform. Goodyears intelligent tyres fixed with sensors are available at Rubiwin, a shared service platform belonging to Redspher. This pilot program puts smart data collecting tyres on distribution and utility vans.
Oxygen is one of the exciting Goodyear concepts with a live moss growing on its sidewall. The most thrilling thing about Oxygen is that its open structure and its smart tread design tend to absorb and distribute humidity and water from the way, thereby allowing photosynthesis to happen, and the result is oxygen. The oxygen is later added to the tyre.
Materials from Renewable Sources
Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company now utilize the rice husk waste that would be otherwise headed for the landfills to manufacture fuel-efficient tyres. The rice husk residue is transformed into silica and then used in tyres. Goodyear collaborated with Soybean Board to invent soybean oil to enhance the performance of tyres. A scientist team from Goodyear formed a tread compound using soybean oil, which is naturally derived, carbon-neutral, cost-effective, and renewable. Soybean oil has been found to mix quite well with rubber hence reducing the energy used in manufacture.
Another crucial factor that is considered in tyre production is the location of materials. Rubber is usually grown in humid areas and has to be transported globally.
However, “There is one particular plant, the Russian dandelion, that has an almost similar latex DNA as ordinary rubber,” says Nikolai Setzer, an executive board member of Continental’s automotive sections as well as the previous head of tyre division.
According to Setzer, an extra benefit is that dandelions produce fast, unlike natural rubber. They don’t require a great deal of water and sunshine. The project known as the Taraxacum is named after the plant’s botanical name, Taraxacum kok-saghyz.
Since the 1970s, Goodyear has been advancing non-pneumatic technologies when it assisted develop the tyres of NASA’s Apollo Lunar roaming automobiles.
Later in 2018, Goodyear started providing NPT for zero-turn radius lawn mower known as Goodyear TurfCommand embedded with the Duraweb Technology. For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, bicycles with Bridgestone’s NPT will be obtainable.
“We have bicycle tyres for ATVs, private mobility devices, and we also have business fleet applications for eighteen-wheelers,” declares Kory Smith.
The Pneumatic Sensation
The best part about having NPT is that they are air-filled. Fleets tend to devote a lot of time to tyre maintenances. However, with NPT, things will be different. “There will be an improved safety aspect. Besides, you don’t need a large automobile on the roadside,” says Smith.
These tyres are made to have the same toughness and feel as the pneumatic tyres. The mileage, as well as the life ranking, are also similar to pneumatic tyres.
The airless tyres for commercial uses are made to be retreaded, like the regular truck tyres. And according to Smith, the tyres will also need maintenance like balancing, alignment and rotation.
It is important to note that the advanced airless tyres from Bridgestone is still in the perception stage and not readily available in the market today.
Michelin Airless Tyres for Multiple Markets
For many years now, Michelin has been trying out and gradually introducing airless tyres into the market. According to Eric Bruner, the director, extremal communications at Michelin North America, they have been expanding their collection of airless tyres for light and commercial construction applications.
Michelin X Tweel SSL for skid-steer loaders is the first NP product from Michelin and was rolled out in October 2012. On January 29, the firm introduced another product, the airless tyres for stand-on mowers and golf carts, known as the Michelin X Tweel Turf Comfort.
Michelin is now partnering with GM to bring their airless tyre notion called the Unique Puncture-Proof Tyre System by 2024.
According to a report by Michelin, two hundred million tyres are discarded annually. Most of them because of puncture or unbalanced wear that is caused by improper tyre pressure. UPTIS is made to reduce that waste.
Bruner also says that Michelin is thinking about customer safety and renewable mobility. And according to him, there is an ongoing archetype trial and development at the Chevrolet Bolt EV in the US.
“Up until now, no regulations have absorbed the airless tyre technology. We are following regulatory procedures to test our prototypes on clear roads in each state in the US,” says Bruner.