Survey: future tyres must be weather adaptable, safer

Consumers are particularly interested in tyres that can adapt to different weather conditions by utilising sensor technology, according to a survey commissioned by Finnish tyre maker Nokian Tyres. Some 34% of European drivers, it said, hope that the black and round rubber parts on their cars will also automatically react to the weather in the future.

The Nokian Tyres’s survey was conducted online among 4,100 respondents during December 2018 and January 2019 by the YouGov market research company.

Sensor can measure, identify, and react to changes in the environment.. A smart tyre with sensors could also monitor both itself and its surroundings faster and in more ways than the driver.

Thus, sensors in the tyre could measure the tread depth and wear and alert the driver when new tyres are needed or ask them to rotate them from front to back in order to even out the wear and optimize their service life, said Teemu Soini who is responsible for new technologies at Nokian Tyres.

Compared to the first wave of smart technology, sensors installed in tyres will measure different variables and forward the information to the driver, either directly into the vehicle’s onboard systems or to the driver’s mobile device; while a true smart tyre is one that can automatically react to the information from the sensor – without any driver interference. These tyres could automatically adapt to weather and road conditions by changing the tread pattern, for example. In wet weather, the grooves storing water could increase in volume and reduce the risk of aquaplaning.

Sensors in tyres are already commonly used for measuring inflation pressure. However, real smart tyres are claimed to be not available yet.

Currently, there are very few next-generation smart applications for passenger car tyres, but this will surely change within the next five years, and premium tyres will provide more driver assistance solutions. Tyres that react automatically are still a thing of the future, Soini said.

Alongside smart tyres, consumers want safe tyres. According to Nokian Tyres’ survey, nearly every second driver would make tyres safer than they are now.

“Tyres are an essential safety factor. Four palm-sized pads are the only contact point with the road surface, and their main task is to safely take you where you are going, regardless of the weather or road conditions, “ the report also said.

Today’s high-quality tyres are already extremely safe. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. Continuous development and relentless testing are key.

Developments in tyre material technology enable us to build tyres that work even better under the most challenging conditions. In practice, we can improve grip at the extremes without sacrificing durability, Soini furthered.

The survey report highlighted European drivers’ tyre expectations for future tyres, including, eliminating the need for seasonal tyre change;  slower wearing out than they do currently; rolling lightly, saving fuel and thereby, extending the range of electric vehicle; and being  puncture-proof, self- repairing.