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Connected tyres to improve ride sharing: Goodyear

Goodyear says Level 5 autonomy in ride-sharing fleets requires connected tyres

23 Aug 2018

GOODYEAR and Dunlop Tyres Australia says connected tyres will be a critical component of Level 5 autonomous vehicles, which are expected to one day dominate ride-sharing fleets in urban areas.
 
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the national launch of the Assurance TripleMax 2 tyre in Springvale, Victoria, Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres Australia head of consumer products and market insights Raelene Smith admitted that while Goodyear’s recently-revealed Eagle 360 Urban and Oxygene tyres are purely conceptual, they play an important developmental role.
 
“We look towards the future, and we look at what the trends are, and we work with the OEMs to come up with concepts,” she said. “When they’ll actually be commercialised is unknown at this point in time.
 
“What we do know is that things are changing. We’re seeing new technology in cars today. We’re see people with self-driving fleets always looking at autonomous vehicles and how they work. So, we envisage that, at some stage, the role of tyres will change.”
 
As such, Goodyear is currently partnering with Tesla, among other OEMs, to work on these innovations. It has also rolled out its own ride-sharing service in the United States, which uses tyres with sensors that collect data to optimise fleet management.
 
When questioned what value connected tyres, such as the Eagle 360 Urban, add to an autonomous vehicle, Ms Smith explained that improving the profitability of ride-sharing services is key.
 
“What we’re envisaging there is that we’ll actually be able to optimise the uptime,” she said. “It’s more around productive maintenance and minimising fleet downtime.”
 
“You won’t have a driver who owns the vehicle, as such. It’s more people using it for ride sharing. You haven’t got someone that is as engaged in inspecting the tyres to make sure that they’re okay and running at the optimum condition that they need to.
 
“We’re obviously looking at what sensor technology we can put into tyres to help inform the vehicle, which helps with that productive maintenance piece.
 
“So, it’s more of a smart tyre that can actually help get ahead of the curve and take on that role, where a consumer might not physically play that role in the future.
 
“It’s about sensing weather conditions and letting other vehicles know about hazards. Basically optimising the safety performance and driving experience for all people.”
 
Given the spherical shape, bionic skin and artificial intelligence of the Eagle 360 Urban, it would require OEMs to modify their vehicle designs to suit these radical features, with Ms Smith stressing that collaboration between the two parties is critical.
 
“What we’re acknowledging, as a company, is it’s got to be more of a partnership,” she said. “We’ve got to work together on what that solution can ultimately be.”
 
While electric vehicles (EVs) have already hit the Australian market, albeit in small numbers, Ms Smith revealed that Goodyear’s EfficientGrip Performance EV tyre is not yet confirmed for a local launch, but does hit Europe next year after its debut at the Geneva motor show in March.
 
“One of things that Goodyear will most likely look to do is see where it can be fitted as original equipment,” she said. “Therefore, if that vehicle comes to Australia, it will be present.
 
“I imagine that the first tyres that are fitted to electric vehicles will not necessarily be a replacement tyre, it will be something that comes with the vehicle into the country.
 
“We are looking at that, and we are starting to scope out what potential replacement tyres for electric vehicles could look like, understanding that they’ve got different requirements.
 
“The vehicles are heavier, you need more robust tyres, they don’t wear out as quick, they also need to more quiet because the vehicles don’t make as much noise.”
 
When questioned what tyre innovations will make it into production next, Ms Smith reiterated that EVs will continue to influence Goodyear’s product planning in the short term, while high-performance vehicles will also be a factor.
 
“If I think about the five-year horizon, some of the things we are looking at are what sort of tyres will we need for electric vehicles,” she said.
 
“Given that we’ve got some in the market today, what are the kind of unique requirements that we will need to build and design for is something that we’re focusing on.
 
“We’re also looking at some of the ultra-, ultra-high-performance needs, in that we’re seeing an increasing number of sports performance vehicles in the car park that have more tuning to different types of driving.”

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