Tires are the next frontier for automotive data collection and safety

Tire sensors are likely to become smarter and generate more important data for drivers in the coming years as electric vehicles become more prominent, industry executives say.

That’s an important safety factor. EVs are generally heavier than gasoline-powered vehicles and generate massive torque, leading to faster tire wear rates, said Yagil Tzur, vice president of product at Israeli tech startup Tactile Mobility.

“EVs have longer service intervals,” he said. “They don’t get to repair shops as frequently, so no one professional is looking at the tires. That leads to increased risk.”

Major tire manufacturers such as Goodyear, Michelin, Continental and Bridgestone are developing advanced sensors and experimenting with products to help tires last longer and to give drivers notice of when they might need to be serviced.

“If you don’t personally monitor them, you end up with increased risk of accident and risk of tire blowouts and greater braking distances,” he said.

Continental, for instance, is developing intelligent sensors that it says will do more than monitor tire pressure, now an industry standard. They will gauge tire temperature, detect punctures and alert vehicle owners of problems.

Goodyear, meanwhile, partnered with self-driving truck company Gatik to produce a proof-of-concept technology that estimates road friction and sends real-time information to a vehicle’s automated driving system.

The technology was deployed this winter as part of a pilot program in the Toronto area. The icy road conditions provided an opportunity to “validate findings on the road that we already found in the lab,” said Erin Spring, Goodyear’s senior director of material science.

“You can get an idea of what road conditions are by just looking at the weather, but what you don’t get by doing that is the actual friction levels,” she said. “We can now measure that and send it back to the vehicle.”

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