The most interesting conceptual tires of 2018 were presented by Goodyear and Hankook. The score is 2:1 in favor of the Korean tire maker.
In terms of tire-making technology, the loudest statements about their research and development were made by Continental, Yokohama, Bridgestone, and Toyo. The company that came the closest of all to implementing its new technologies is Continental AG with its rubber-coated stud, the production of which has already partially begun.
Hankook rolled out its Aeroflow and Hexonic futuristic tires, designed for self-driving cars, in the beginning of 2018 at Essen Motor Show.
The widened tread pattern of the concept tire Hankook Aeroflow increases the traction when it’s needed, while turbine impellers pick up the air during driving and use this to generate additional downforce if necessary, which is extremely important for single-seated racing cars, for which, as a matter of fact, these tires were originally designed.
Hexonic is an intelligent tire concept for autonomous shared mobility vehicles. Scanning and analyzing the road in real time by using seven separate sensors, the tread pattern adapts to the changing weather and road conditions such as grip, temperature and state of the road surface, which enhances the passenger comfort of jointly used cars — the primary objective of this concept.
Goodyear’s concept tire, called Oxygene, debuted at the Geneva Motor Show 2018. This tire, which has a unique open structure that features living moss growing within the sidewall, is capable of releasing oxygen into the air, generating electricity and even connecting to the Internet.
One cannot omit mentioning the concept tires Michelin Vision created with the aid of 3D printer, which were presented last year. Their alveolar interior architecture really impressed the judging panel of the «Red Dot Award — 2018», where the coral-shaped tires were pronounced «the best of the best».
Tire Research and Development
Continental: Rubber-Coated Tire Stud Technology
In 2018, Continental AG presented the ContiFlexStud technology that was meant to further improve the performance of winter studded tires and road safety. The use of this revolutionary technology (currently it is only used in one size of the Continental IceContact 2 tires) ensures better traction on ice and snow, increases the acoustic comfort, reduces the tire’s destructive influence on the road surface, and prevents the stud loss.
Simulating the tire’s road behavior — by Yokohama
Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., in a joint research project with the Tribology Laboratory of Kanazawa University, has developed an evaluation technology that visualizes rubber’s frictional state of contact on an icy surface.
From a practical standpoint, it will help to develop new compounding agents with great water-absorbing power, and create tire design with better drainage properties.says our technical expert
It is expected that implementing this technology will lead to the creation of tires with a significantly better grip on iced roads.
Isoprene Obtained from Biomass
The Yokohama researchers in collaboration with the companies Riken и Zeon have developed the world’s first technology of getting isoprene from biomass. The technology of synthesizing isoprene, which is widely used in tire production, will make it possible not only to reduce the oil dependency (currently, industrial isoprene is essentially a byproduct of oil pyrolysis) but also to cut the emission of carbon dioxide, which is considered to be the main cause of the global warming.
The Heavy Duty Polymer Developed by Bridgestone
In 2018, Bridgestone announced that it developed the world’s first polymer that boasts an unprecedented sturdiness and resistance to cracking thanks to uniting natural rubber and resins on the molecular level. This may lead to the decrease of polymers used in tire production.
Toyo Unveils Noise Reduction Technology
Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. has created a technology named Toyo Silent, which fights the tire cavity resonance that is transmitted to the vehicle interior as noise via the axle. The new Toyo technology will cut the noise by modifying airflow within the tire cavity. It is possible that mass implementation of this technology will raise the brand’s competitiveness.
Flexible Wheels from Michelin and Maxion
Meanwhile, presented in 2017, Maxion Flexible wheels with Michelin Acorus Technology, which makes it possible to significantly decrease the damage done to the undercarriage by a poor-quality road surface, received a 2018 CLEPA Innovation Award at this year’s European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) Innovation Award program.
Industry 4.0 «Smart» Tire Factory
Turkish tire maker Brisa has started production of Bridgestone and Lassa tires at a «smart» factory in Askaray, central Turkey. Its design and operation is based on the Industry 4.0 principles of a «smart» factory, more about which can be found in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industry_4.0
Among the plant’s efficiency improvements are fully automated tire transfer systems, tracking production through the digital twin of its plant, and increased employment of virtual reality. All of this allows Brisa to produce «zero defect» products and double inventory turnover compared with a «traditional» manufacturing plant.