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Game Changing Technology: The tires of tomorrow

How does the tire industry perceive the tire of tomorrow? What are the game-changing aspects of tire design? Pneumatic vs. non-pneumatic? Trends in materials development? And weight? For answers, Rubber & Plastics News surveyed several major tire makers, including Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Goodyear, Hankook Tire USA, Michelin, Pirelli, and Sumitomo.

All these companies recognize the three mega-trends impacting future tire evolution: eco-friendly vehicles, autonomous vehicle technology, and ride-sharing.

Pierluigi de Cancellis, Pirelli executive vice president technology sums up the five criteria driving innovation:

1. Rolling Resistance: Further reduction in rolling resistance (not only in “free rolling” condition but also and especially in actual driving condition, i.e. braking, cornering, etc.) and hence in energy economy as a consequence also of electric/hybrid vehicle diffusion and the related need for battery autonomy extension. 2. Extended Mobility: Adoption of advanced solutions for the tire puncture problem (e.g. self-sealing tires, runflat tires) as a technology enabling also shared mobility and autonomous driving. 3. Connectivity: Application of sensor technology to development of “intelligent” tires and the use of data collection for enabling different services. The collection and processing of data regarding many aspects of the tire performance and road conditions is useful for optimizing overall tire performance and safety and minimizing energy consumption, a topic of growing importance, especially with regard to electric and hybrid vehicles. 4. Weight: Tire weight is targeted to be reduced in order to improve overall vehicle efficiency. 5. Noise: Due to vehicle evolution, including the diffusion of hybrid/electric cars, tire noise reduction will more and more become a key target.

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