On 12 December, an agreement of historic importance was signed in Paris when 195 nations at the Conference of Parties approved a climate agreement that calls for limiting global temperature increases by 1.5°, raising USD 100 million for developing nations, and revising cuts to toxic emissions every five years in order to increase the targets for reducing CO2. These were the three key points of the agreement that will go down in the history books as “COP21”.
It is an agreement that the whole world needs and which calls for an environmentally sustainable transformation of the economies of each nation, making the shift to concrete facts and practical action—action which will necessarily involve the transport industry if we consider that, in Europe alone, there are some seven million vehicles (trucks and buses) on the road consuming roughly 23 million tyres each year (17 million new and 6 million retread tyres). Fully 90% of all goods are transported by truck, and these trucks are becoming increasingly efficient, quiet and sustainable than they once were.
Faced with such numbers, and given the environmental challenge we have set for ourselves and which we must overcome, the issue of tyres, too, must be dealt with in a radically new way. We must pursue the road of technological innovation, producing tyres of ever-increasing levels of performance that can, at the same time, reduce consumption and environmental impact while increasing safety. We need green, retreadable tyres with longer useful lives.
This is one of those rare cases in which individual business interests match up with the interests of us all, i.e. protecting the environment. The new generation tyres, with high performances in terms of sustainability, mileage and cost reduction such as Pirelli's Series 01 (used in top conditions), enables to save up to, compared to previous version, 3,5% on fuel (more or less 2.200 euro per year) while also reducing CO2 emissions. And in the future? Some tyre manufacturers estimate that the total cost of ownership of tyres for fleet managers is 40% strictly connected (directly or indirectly) to tyre. The choice of the best performing product, the monitoring and a constant, careful management of tyres can lead to a reduction of these costs, coming to a saving of about 20% of the fleet total cost.
What is needed is a new approach that sees tyre manufacturers as partners with fleet managers, offering not so much a product as a service, from retreading and constant tyre monitoring to breakdown services and cyberfleet services to improve fuel consumption and the management of tyre-maintenance costs. In order to pursue this goal, it is essential that tyre producers know their customers and their customers’ needs and provide a range of products and services that meets those needs, freeing fleet managers from all matters related to tyres and tyre-related costs.
In the future, vehicles will interact more and more with the road in a constant exchange between smart devices and asphalt. This will optimise costs, reduce environmental impact, and increase driver safety and is an evolution of the industry in which all of the leading manufacturers are involved in various ways.
Within this context, the path being pursued by Pirelli is called Cyber Tyre, the result of cutting-edge research and born out of a collaboration with Politecnico di Milano. The Cyber Tyre system is a “smart tyre” prototype that can communicate with the vehicle. It is equipped with an electronic sensor that serves the dual function of both “reading” the road to gather information about the road surface and interacting with the car using wireless technology in order to interpret potential hazards and avoid accidents.
Of course, there are two main focuses when it comes to industrial vehicles. The first relates to cost-effective operations (and lowering pollution), which drives purchases, while the second—as with all technological innovation and including Cyber Fleet—drives increases in road safety at all levels. Indeed, both safety and overall environmental impact (i.e. not just consumption and emissions, but also the overall tyre “footprint” throughout its lifecycle) are the objectives of Cyber Tyre.
But what are Cyber Tyre’s goals for the future? How will it evolve over the long term as we move towards vehicles that could be driving themselves down our motorways by 2025? The tyres could provide information about vehicle loads and grip margins, while also providing data for the vehicle-management system to improve the performance of devices with which we are already familiar, such as ABS and ESP.