Just about everything is connected these days, but one of the last things we expected to be made smart is the rubber that keeps every car planted to the road.
Tire manufacturer Pirelli has done just that. The Cyber Tire, as the company is calling it, has sensors that can communicate via 5G networks as part of a larger vehicle-to-infrastructure system to keep other vehicles constantly apprised of road conditions.
Pirelli—along with Ericsson, Audi, Tim, Italdesign, and KTH—conducted a proof-of-concept demonstration utilizing two vehicles in Turin, Italy. The lead car was driven over standing water, causing it to momentarily hydroplane.
The sensors in the tires detected the condition and communicated it to the surrounding network, which forwarded that data to other connected vehicles. The following car was able to account for the change in surface conditions and adjust for it. The system will also be able to communicate areas of low grip.
"The tire is the only point of contact between the vehicle and road and, thanks to the technology which Pirelli is perfecting, it communicated with the vehicle, driver and, thanks to the potential of 5G, with the entire roadway infrastructure," Pirelli's announcement said.
Pirelli's Cyber Tyre will be able to communicate more than just dangerous road conditions. Pirelli says it will supply the car with data about the tire model, miles driven, and dynamic load.
Real-world tests of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure networks have begun popping up in recent years, and some pilot programs are already bearing fruit.
Daimler is part of a vehicle-to-x test program currently underway in the Zollernalb district of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, where Mercedes-Benz passenger cars are being used to communicate the presence of ice and snow on roadways to the local maintenance depots, who then use the data to coordinate plowing and road treatment.
Pirelli also presented its Track Adrenaline line, which is a range of P Zero Trofeo tires that can monitor tire pressure and temperature and combine this information with telemetry to provide drivers with suggestions to improve tract performance.