New tyre technologies presented at Frankfurt was quite interesting this year. The tyre of the future as envisaged by Continental will be much different to what we are accustomed today.
Continental presented an intelligent concept tyre with focus on safety. The ContiSense and ContiAdapt concept tyres highlight individual capabilities, but the main goal is on creating a tyre than can adapt and provide a safer driving experience based on a number of conditions.
ContiSense utilizes electrically conductive rubber compounds so it can send signals to sensors in the tyre onward to receiving sensors in the vehicle. If there’s a problem with tread depth, temperature, or even if a puncture occurs, the sensors will know and relay that information to the driver. They can do so faster than a traditional tyre-pressure monitoring system. Looking forward a bit, this system would eventually be used to relay road surface information, so the driver is aware of how much (or how little) grip might be available due to temperature or snow.
ContiAdapt is a bit more forward thinking. It utilizes a series of scaled-down compressors so it can constantly adjust tyre pressure to fit a variable-width rim. This would alter the size of the tyre’s contact patch based on the situation at a given time. If you need low-rolling resistance tyres for better efficiency during highway driving, you get more tyre pressure and a smaller contact patch. If you need some grip, you’ll get less pressure and a wider contact patch.
Using both conceptual systems together would create an incredibly smart tyre that understands its own condition as well as the condition of the environment around it.