The “Internet of Things” has finally reached the tire industry. In case you haven’t heard the expression, the Internet of Things is a network of interconnected items that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors and receivers, thereby creating “smart” objects. Data technology allows for sensor-to-machine, machine-to-machine and/or machine-to-people communication as information is gathered and typically fed into cloud-based digital platforms for storage, evaluation and use.
All of this opens huge opportunities for consumers for everything from convenience to safety. For instance, your kitchen refrigerator could automatically ship you a replacement filter as needed. Your journey to work might include driving on a smarter concrete that helps detect structural weakness on bridges. The possibilities are endless.
Yes, our stuff is getting smarter – including our tires.
Smart tires have been talked about for years now. But what’s futuristic for some is quickly becoming an in-market reality for others.
Pirelli & C. SpA recently announced its groundbreaking Pirelli Connesso, an intelligent, connected tire digital platform (not a concept, but the real McCoy) integrated into P Zero or Winter Sottozero tires which communicates with the driver via an app, thanks to a sensor embedded in the internal wall of the tire. This app supplies vital information on how the tire is working, as well as offering a series of personalized services. The technology is available to the replacement market in the plain black or colored tire versions.
Pirelli Connesso expands the information already available from each car’s on-board computer. The sensor weighs just a few grams and, according to Pirelli, has no effect on the physical performance of the tire. That additional information includes data on the status, use and maintenance of every tire, plus tire pressure and temperature (even when the car is at rest), static vertical load, tire wear and number of miles/kilometers covered for each tire. The launch version recognizes each tire’s identification code, monitoring its status from when it’s made in the factory to its recycling at the end of life. Future versions will also provide estimated remaining tire life as well as act as a remote pressure gauge when tires are being inflated (without having to wait for the tires to cool down).
So how does this help tire dealers? The Pirelli Connesso app is supported by the first mobility platform of its kind to connect tiremakers, consumers and the dealer network. The Connesso system alerts the vehicle driver when the pressure of one or more tires drops too low or when the wear limit is approaching. In both cases, the Connesso app identifies the closest tire dealership and can directly book an appointment to correct the pressure or pre-order and change worn tires. Not only does this cut down on wait time for the customer, it also drives more business into the shops that carry the Pirelli brand.
In a future version, Connesso will also be able detect a drop in pressure remotely to immediately make arrangements for any new tires or maintenance needed, directly in the place where the car is parked. This type of functionality, which allows predictive tire management will help meet the needs of individual vehicle owners as well as fleets and car sharing services.
Pirelli said this technology was originally conceived as a “technical tire accessory” and is part of a greater technology project Pirelli launched in 2005 with the aim of achieving maximum integration between driver, car and tires.
Pirelli says the integrated tires and data system will be available to its North America tire dealers by mid summer this year. While currently releasing as an aftermarket product, the company says it is in discussion with OE manufacturers.
At last month’s Geneva Auto Show, Goodyear also unveiled its Intelligrip Urban smart tire concept designed for the “someday” need of autonomous on-demand and ride-share vehicle fleets. They also revealed their Eagle 360 Urban buzzworthy concept tire, designed in anticipation of the connectivity needs of autonomous vehicles.
As both tires and vehicles become increasingly advanced, we expect to see more companies adding smart tires to their product offerings as the Internet of Things continues to evolve.