For more than 20 years, Pirelli’s scientists and researchers have been pursuing the goal of making intelligent tyres. They’ve worked with partners including the Milan Polytechnic Foundation for Smart Mobility and Berkeley Wireless Research Center and filed 300 patents. Now that technology is ready for use and in 2018 it will be available integrated into a car for the first time.
Dubbed the Cyber Car system, it will deliver key information to help driver safety and performance. Cyber Car builds on the success of Pirelli Connesso – launched at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show – which is aimed at individual drivers and delivered through an app on their mobile phone.
This takes Pirelli into the most secret area of cars – vehicle electronics – and it will be interesting to see what develops. Certainly car makers realise that the tyres are the only part of the car in contact with the road, yet they are the least connected part of the car today. Many manufacturers are looking to increase the connectivity of the tyre to provide a better experience to their users and to improve the performance of their cars.
Pirelli has worked with car manufacturers to integrate the technology – and the first car model fitted with the company’s Cyber Car platform is expected to be ready for market this year. It will be up to the car makers themselves what information they deliver to drivers and how – whether through the vehicle dashboard, an app or a combination of both.
Using a sensor housed inside the car tyre, the system can produce accurate real-time monitoring of temperature and pressure quite different to that from a rim-based sensor. It is also the only technology to offer a dynamic measure of tyre wear. Pirelli calculates this by running the car’s data through a specially-developed algorithm before feeding it back to the driver.
For Pirelli, the central factor in using these digital systems is peace of mind for the end user and this is the basic philosophy of Connesso and also Cyber Car.
For Pirelli, the central factor in using these digital systems is peace of mind for the end user
The Cyber Car system can also deliver data on the static vertical load – the downward force applied to the tyre – although this is likely to be more useful for a car maker than a driver. It’s a figure that is particularly important for electric vehicles because it has an impact on how long the battery charge lasts and could be used to modify the settings of the car. By knowing the car’s accurate weight, the vehicle’s central control unit can calculate more precisely just how many kilometres can be driven before a recharge is needed.
Cyber Car is also the only integrated system to offer Tyre ID. This is the passport of the tyre and it can be logged with whatever details are required – from the brand and size of the tyre, its load and pressure capacities to where the tyre was produced and when. Used together with the information on the static vertical load, the Tyre ID can be used to optimise tyre pressure and even the car’s chassis control system to improve car safety and control.
The Tyre ID also makes it possible to offer new service features. For example, the car could issue the driver with a seasonal warning in November that it’s time to change from the summer tyres in place to winter tyres. Or, if your car has a puncture, a repair team would be able to check the Tyre ID via the Cloud and come directly to where you are with a suitable replacement tyre, removing the wasted time and money involved in taking the car into a garage.
A repair team would be able to check the Tyre ID via the Cloud and come directly to where you are with a suitable replacement tyre
Tyres that talk
The Cyber Car joins Pirelli Connesso, which went on sale in the US early this year and has a rollout planned for several countries in Europe, followed by China in the first quarter of 2019.
These two digital platforms – one direct to the consumer, the other via the car maker – are still works in progress. As digital platforms they will continue to be modified and improved to make them as useful as possible for the end user. And work continues on the services that can be provided through such platforms such as car valeting, roadside assistance and servicing.
As digital platforms they will continue to be modified and improved to make them as useful as possible for the end user
Both platforms are products of Pirelli’s Cyber Technologies Unit, which is dedicated to developing the “talking tyre”. Also due to be unveiled this year is an updated version of Pirelli’s Cyberfleet, which goes into testing in the second quarter. It is aimed at truck and light commercial vehicles, along with car fleets, long-term car leasing and car sharing.
Even more closely guarded is the Cyber Tyre system – billed as a breakthrough technology that is completely different to Connesso and has been tested on the Ferrari FXX-K development car. It’s the next step in the journey to intelligent tyres.