Pirelli's Cyber Tire will most likely feature on high-end models such as the Lamborghini Gallardo to begin with (standard Pirelli winter tire pictured)Enlarge Photo
Three famous Italian automotive firms have joined forces to bring a new “Cyber Tire” to the market. While tire pressure monitoring systems have become commonplace on all but the most entry-level cars, these companies are working on a self-powered microchip-based system that reports temperature, pressure and load wirelessly to the car's computer.
Pirelli will work with Magneti Marelli on the electronic control systems and Brembo for the brakes on the new tire. The goal will be to develop a complete solution for car companies that will reduce their engineering costs and be easy to integrate into current product plans.
The system involves a piezoelectric power generation system and microchip applied to the inside of the tire's carcass. The rolling motion of the tire generates the electricity the system needs to function, so as long as the car is rolling, the tire can report its information. The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology underlying the system is well-known and proven, allowing the tire to store its own production date, site and tire type. The hope is that by providing even more information on the tires' current conditions, systems like stability control and ABS will be able to function more precisely, helping to improve traction and safety in all situations.
In addition to the temperature and pressure-sensing features, a tri-axial accelerometer is also embedded in the tires, giving full 3D data to relate the tire's angle to the car's thrust angle, slip angle and the relative friction coefficients of each individual tire, in extremely fine-grained detail. With such ground-level information being streamed constantly to the car's computer, it will allow traction control and ABS systems to effectively respond before the driver is even aware of a problem, and even before the computer-controlled systems currently in use.
A similar product is being developed for motorcycles, and will be called the Cyber Tire Lean. The motorcycle implementation will be delivered to market first, expected to start as early as 2010. The automotive Cyber Tire is expected to enter production in 2011 or 2012.