Pirelli is opening up a new era in tyre technology, just as it did when the radial Cinturato was introduced in the 1950s and the ultra low profile tyre made its debut in the 1970s.
The latest innovation to emerge from Milan is the Cyber Tyre: an intelligent tyre that provides vital information about vehicle performance and road conditions, as well as the tyre’s status, thanks to a sophisticated sensor embedded in the structure. This data is conveyed to the driver as well as to the car’s electronics, helping improve safety and efficiency.
These are the key benefits of the latest technology that is currently being worked on by Pirelli’s renowned Research and Development department together with the department of Mechanical Engineering at Milan University. The result will be unprecedented levels of safety and performance, adding to the active and passive safety systems that are already present on modern vehicles.
The increasing convergence of mechanical and electronic systems in vehicle technology has meant that tyres are playing a more and more prominent role to ensure safety, as the only point of physical contact between the driver, the car and the road.
At the heart of Cyber Tyre is an autonomous electronic sensor that measures around a centimetre squared, which reads the road and its interaction with the tyre, ‘talking’ in real time via a wireless connection to the car’s onboard computer and other electronic systems. These then display information to the driver via a graphic interface.
The sensor interprets the grip available, analysing road conditions that range from dry to wet to icy, together with the condition of the road surface (which obviously also affects the amount of traction on offer).
Cyber Tyre additionally senses the vertical load on the tyre as well as the lateral and longitudinal forces at work on it, calculating how much speed can be carried before aquaplaning occurs, as well as how much grip is available before the car starts to skid. Other data fields include information about the type of asphalt on the road, plus the footprint and angle of the tyre, as well as tyre temperature, pressure, wear and number of revolutions. The sensor also acts as each tyre’s ‘passport’, carrying unique information about its identity.
In summary, Pirelli’s futuristic intelligent tyre directly interprets all interaction between the tyre and the road in real time, providing advance information about how conditions are changing and any trouble ahead. As a result, safety margins are calculated instantly and conveyed to the vehicle’s control systems, which can then react immediately to the conditions and put in place optimal safeguards against any impending hazards.
In particular, Cyber Tyre allows cruise control and brake assist systems to react using entirely accurate information about the grip available in that very moment, adjusting speed and braking with total precision to suit the surface conditions.
Pirelli’s intelligent tyre can also implement new warning systems that are not generally used at the moment but are still essential for improved safety, such as those governing cornering speeds and aquaplaning risk. Working with the car’s advanced electronic control systems, speed can then be reduced to bring these parameters back within safe limits.
Cyber Tyre, which is currently being studied for inclusion as original equipment by the world’s major car manufacturers, is already a reality thanks to the CyberFleet system for commercial vehicles that is already use by some of the leading fleets in Europe and South America. CyberFleet automatically monitors tyre pressures and temperatures, helping to optimise fleet costs by reducing fuel spend, while making tyre maintenance and pressure checks more efficient.
CyberFleet is available in both static and dynamic mode. In static mode, a portable data reader captures the data from each sensor when the vehicle is at rest. This information can be subsequently transferred to a computer for further analysis and archiving.
In dynamic mode, full integration with a telematics system allows real time data capture from the sensors, transmitting information to a centralised database. Any anomalies in tyre temperature or pressure are signalled immediately to both the driver and the fleet manager. Track & Trace functionality is also available, which tracks all information on each individual vehicle’s tyres – including vital parameters such as distance travelled and speed.