The automotive industry is reinventing itself: autonomous driving, electrification and intelligent vehicles are all on the rise. Our cars have long since developed into computers on four wheels; sophisticated assistance systems and sensors make driving more comfortable than ever before. And it goes without saying that progress is also being made when it comes to tires. For example, newly registered passenger cars have had to be equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems since 2012. In the past 130 years there is, however, one concept that tire manufacturers have not moved one inch away from: that of the air-filled tire. Until now. For the tire as we have known it so far may soon be a thing of the past.
If you look at the tire trends of tomorrow, you will always be met with three new concepts: The tire of the future ...
... no longer needs air, ... is "intelligent" and ... it repairs itself.
You might now be thinking that we have inhaled too many rubber fumes! Not at all - what may sound like visions of the future now could soon become everyday life on the roads. So let's take a closer look at the trends of tomorrow.
Make a note of the year 2024 in your calendar: because that is when the first airless car tires could hit your workshop. The tread of the tire is supported here by a structure consisting of a variety of materials. This is made up of flexible plastic spokes that are directly connected to the profiled tread. These spokes are manufactured out of polyester resin and glass fibre and they are extremely resistant. In addition, they boast a high load-bearing capacity, which makes this type of tire also suitable for heavy SUVs. The spokes have a vibration-damping effect during driving. And with such a tire, you never have to think about whether the tire pressure is right.This issue can be confidently forgotten. Another bonus is that airless tires are more puncture-proof than conventional tires – which means a particularly high level of safety and reliability for your customers.
With this concept the tire of tomorrow gets an upgrade – and that goes well beyond what is possible today, for example, with tire pressure sensors or tire pressure monitoring systems. Thanks to sensors, tires will in future be able to detect road conditions and alert other drivers to potential risks, such as aquaplaning. This is made possible by the so-called V2X or Car-To-Car communication, in which different vehicles communicate with each other or with the traffic infrastructure. Sensors record, among other things, the condition of the tire, the temperature, the air pressure, the weight and also the road conditions. Therefore an automated tire pressure recommendation based on such measured parameters is possible. And yet another option: if the system notices that grip is decreasing on wet or slippery roads, it can send a signal to the engine control unit to reduce speed.
Smart and connected tires are therefore an important step towards improving road safety. Together with 360° surroundings detection and 77 GHz radar technology, which HELLA has also been working on intensively for many years, an almost total safety system is becoming possible.
If a major tire manufacturer has its way, you'll soon never have to change a punctured tire again. How is that supposed to work? With tires that regenerate themselves after they’ve been damaged. The basic idea of this concept is a capsule filled with a special liquid rubber compound that can be used to automatically refill the tread. The capsules, in turn, can also be refilled.
Tomorrow's tires seem pretty revolutionary, don't they? However, in all this, one thing must not be forgotten: the key factors in all future development of new tires will continue to be safety and performance. And tire manufacturers will likewise be faced with the task of conserving resources and reducing fuel consumption.