It's always amazing to see what tire manufacturers are dreaming up for the future. Most of the time, it's a concept based in the distant future when nano bots are able to repair your self-healing tires as your autonomous pod whisks you to an AI-controlled beachfront home. This time, however, Continental is looking a bit closer in the not-too-distant future and its focus is on safety.
Both the ContiSense and ContiAdapt concept tires were shown off at the Frankfurt auto show. With each, the main goal is on creating a tire than can adapt and provide a safer driving experience based on a number of conditions.
ContiSense utilizes electrically conductive rubber compounds so it can send signals to sensors in the tire onward to receiving sensors in the vehicle. If there's a problem with tread depth, temperature, or even if a puncture occurs, the sensors will know and relay that information to the driver. They can do so faster than a traditional tire-pressure monitoring system. Looking forward a bit, this system would eventually be used to relay road surface information, so the driver is aware of how much (or how little) grip might be available due to temperature or snow.
ContiAdapt is a bit more forward thinking. It utilizes a series of scaled-down compressors so it can constantly adjust tire pressure to fit a variable-width rim. This would alter the size of the tire's contact patch based on the situation at a given time. If you need low-rolling resistance tires for better efficiency during highway driving, you get more tire pressure and a smaller contact patch. If you need some grip, you'll get less pressure and a wider contact patch.
Using both conceptual systems together would create an incredibly smart tire that understands its own condition as well as the condition of the environment around it.
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