Automotive supplier giant Continental has come out with a new tire concept whose technology may end up in production in the not too distant future.
Called Conti C.A.R.E. (Connected, Autonomous, Reliable and Electrified), the concept was first shown at last month's Frankfurt International Motor Show and was developed with future self-driving taxi fleets in mind.
The tire features sensors able to measure key vitals such as tread depth, temperature, air pressure, and signs of damage. When neccessary, the tire can send information from these sensors to a cloud network where a fleet manager could monitor it. Suppose the tread on a self-driving taxi is getting low, the fleet manager would receive a warning and could call the car back to the station.
Continental Conti C.A.R.E. tire concept
Another interesting aspect is the tire's ability to actively adjust its air pressure on the run. This is made possible by centrifugal pumps built into an accompanying wheel hub. As the vehicle accelerates, the centrifugal forces within the wheel act on the pump to compress air. This air could be stored in a small tank and used to add air to the tires when the pressure drops, which in turn would help overall efficiency.
The system has been designed so that it can rapidly adapt the air pressure, too. This could have benefits for performance driving, where the tire pressure is adjusted depending on the driving situation. Remember, you want your tires to have maximum contact with the road when driving at the limit, such as at a track, and this can be affected by the temperature of the tires and the current state of the air pressure.
The features don't end there, though. The wheel features a modified outer rim that Continental said can reduce vibrations and as a result deliver a smoother, more comfortable ride.