As with all tiremakers, Pirelli’s R&D department in Milan, Italy, works to deliver increased active and passive safety to drivers.
But one new tool in its arsenal is a computerized chip installed in the carcass of what has been dubbed “Cyber Tire.”
Development of the Cyber Tire began several years ago. Unlike previous “tire chip” concepts, the Cyber Tire approach has been to integrate the tire, vehicle and driver.
All of one cubic centimeter in size, the self-powered Cyber Tire chip not only delivers tire inflation pressure and temperature updates in real time, it can sense – and report – on the tire’s current coefficient of friction and road contact force.
Once the chipped tire is installed on a vehicle, it interfaces directly with the other electronic devices on the car, and gives the driver essential information about the condition of the road and the tire. The communication between tire and vehicle promises to make the electronic control of the car more efficient, and will give the driver important and real time information as to the state of the tire and road being navigated.
The small chip is adhered to a tire right on the innerliner, well away from harm during tire mounting or dismounting a common headache with today’s valve stem-based TPMS units. And because it weighs next to nothing, the chip will have no impact on tire/wheel balance or on-road performance.
As the partnership between man and technology gets closer and closer in the automotive field, the tire is becoming increasingly important for safety.
As we all know, the tire is the only interface between the driver, the car and the road. Feedback from tires was limited to “feel” and sound.
Now, thanks to advances in electronics, that interface extends back from the tire to the driver. Tires can actually “talk” to the vehicle and the driver, in languages both can understand, delivering real-time information that can only improve driver safety and vehicle performance.
A particular feature of an “intelligent” tire is an electronic sensor that can give the on-board computer useful information for safe driving. The sensor is completely self-powered and, therefore, always charged, in addition to having a low environmental impact.
Materials, electronics, sensor technology and nanotechnologies are the technological frontiers that challenge leading tire manufacturers today. To meld all of these, Pirelli leveraged its five global technical centers, as well as collaborative agreements with such universities as Milan Polytechnic, Turin Polytechnic and UC Berkeley. And the tiremaker struck up with a number of leading electronics companies.
Adhered directly to the innerliner, Pirelli’s Cyber Tire chip will gather and share a wealth of tire, vehicle and driver performance feedback instantly. Because it is so small, the chip will have no impact on tire balance or on-road performance, and because of its location within a tire, is not subject to damage during mounting or dismounting.
The result of these collaborations will soon be rolling out to tire buyers around the world. Pirelli’s new technological and industrial center at Settimo Torinese will be the first production site for the Cyber Tire, which will be constructed using Pirelli’s MIRS 2 system.
Pirelli says the Cyber Tire will be developed in two steps: the Cyber Tire Lean system and the Cyber Tire.
Cyber Tire Lean is an all-new TPMS sensor for monitoring tire pressure, and was developed in collaboration with Schrader.
Cyber Tire Lean is a small, circular device that is applied to the innerliner of a tire. Once installed, Cyber Tire Lean gives data on tire pressure and temperature, the average load on the wheel and the number of revolutions the wheel and tire make over a fixed period of time.
One of the most unique aspects of the Cyber Tire Lean system is that it needs no battery: in fact, thanks to technology patented by Pirelli, it is self-powered, obtaining the necessary energy from the mechanical vibrations transmitted to the device from the movement of the tire itself.
Cyber Tire Lean will be on sale by mid-2010, Pirelli says, and is the first step in a technological process aimed at creating a truly “intelligent” tire.
The Next Level
Cyber Tire is that intelligent tire, the tiremaker claims, and is scheduled for completion within 2012-13.
The complete Cyber Tire will not only be able to supply data on the tire, but will also be able to “read” the road and interface directly with other electronic car systems, transmitting further information for safer driving.
Cyber Tire allows the tire itself to act as an electronic sensor, interacting with other devices such as the ABS and the ESP, to give real-time information like actual and potential friction coefficients and the force of contact between tire and road, thus allowing the vehicle to make adjustments for optimal and safe control.
The system will be based on an electronic sensor inserted inside the tire, just over one cubic centimeter in size, which will wirelessly transmit all the data relative to the tire and the road surface directly to the on-board computer a sort of miniature “black box” that will not only to supply the driver with useful information but also to receive data dir-ectly from the vehicle’s other electronic devices.
The sensor has a transceiver to transmit and receive data. It can transmit data directly to the vehicle’s on-board control unit.
Commonly, such data would include tire temperature and pressure, and the triaxial acceleration (longitudinal, lateral and radial) generated by the interaction between the tire and the road surface. It can also receive data from the vehicle itself, which may be useful for its own functions.
Currently, a tire is simply a static component, having no input into other vehicle systems and simply reacting to inputs made by the driver and the vehicle. With Cyber Tire, the aim is to make the tire an “active sensor” at the service of the vehicle’s control systems, such as the ABS and the ESP.
In this way, the tire can become an active participant and communicate with the driver and vehicle, supplying data and dynamic parameters instantaneously in order to improve performance and reduce the need for other sensors present in cars today. Conceivably, this could reduce the cost of the vehicle as a whole.
That information will be instantly shared with the driver by means of a graphic interface, allowing the person to correct their driving style to adapt to potential hazards, changes in road surface or tire grip, or changes in conditions.
For example, the system could provide instant detection of black ice or a subtle change in road surface that would increase the likelihood of a skid. Not only will the vehicle adjust, but this system integrates the driver into corrective action.
The Cyber Tire is being developed for high performance vehicles first, but in a few years’ time it will also be available for small- and medium-sized touring cars.