Pirelli Cyber Tyre: the ‘Intelligent Tyre’ that ‘Speaks’ to the Car

Pirelli, as with the radial ply tyre (Cinturato) in the ‘50s and the low and ultra-low profile radial tyres in the '70s, is trailblazing a new era for tyres: the age of the ‘intelligent tyre’. Thanks to a chip inserted into the carcass, the Cyber Tyre can supply essential information on the state of the tyre and on road conditions to the driver and car, making electronic control of the car more efficient. This innovation, which engineers in Pirelli’s R&D department are currently working on, delivers increased active and passive safety when driving. The partnership between man and technology is becoming closer and closer in the automotive industry, and this means that the tyre is becoming increasingly important for safety, representing, in fact, the only interface between the driver, the car and the road. The particular feature of the ‘intelligent tyre’ is an electronic sensor which can give the on-board computer useful information for safe driving. The sensor is completely self-powered and therefore always charged and with low environmental impact. Materials, electronics, sensor technology and nanotechnologies are the technological frontiers which challenge leading tyre manufactures today. Pirelli, to maintain its competitive advantage in technology, has had collaboration agreements for some time now with prestigious universities (such as: UC Berkeley, Milan Polytechnic, Turin Polytechnic) and with companies that are world leaders in electronics. Pirelli’s new technological and industrial centre at Settimo Torinese will be the first production site for the ‘intelligent tyre’, which will use Mirs 2, the evolution of Mirs (Modular Integrated Robotised System), the exclusive manufacturing system developed by Pirelli. The ‘intelligent tyre’ will be developed in two steps as regards technological evolution, application and availability on the market: the Cyber Tyre Lean and the Cyber Tyre in the strict sense. Cyber Tyre Lean: electronics in the future of tyres The future of the “intelligent tyre” involves the development of the most sophisticated electronic systems. Pirelli technology's latest invention is the Cyber Tyre Lean: a TPMS sensor (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) for monitoring tyre pressure, developed in collaboration with Schrader. Cyber Tyre Lean (CTL) is a circular shaped device hardly bigger than a two-euro coin, applied to the inner liner of the tyre, which gives data on tyre pressure and temperature, the average load on the wheel and the number of revolutions. It is an absolutely innovative product, unique in the world, and it needs no battery: in fact, thanks to technology patented by Pirelli, it is self-powered, obtaining the necessary energy from the mechanical vibrations transmitted to the device from the movement of the tyre itself. The CTL will be on sale within the first months of 2010 and it is the first step in a technological process aimed at creating an “intelligent” tyre, which will inform the vehicle on tyre-road interaction. Cyber Tyre: the intelligent tyre that communicates with the car The development of the sensor which is the basis of the Cyber Tyre Lean represents the first application of electronics to tyres and will also be the starting point for the creation, scheduled for completion within 2012/2013, of the so-called “Cyber Tyre”. The Cyber Tyre will not only be able to supply data on the tyre, but will also be able to "read" the road and will interface directly with other electronic car systems, transmitting further information for safer driving. The tyre itself will act as an electronic “sensor”, interacting with other devices such as the ABS and the ESP, to give information in real time such as, for example, the actual and potential friction coefficients, and the force of contact between tyre and road, thus allowing for optimal and safe control of the car. The system will be based on an electronic sensor inserted inside the tyre, just over 1cm3 in size, which will transmit by wireless technology all the data relative to the tyre and will also communicate signals coming from the road, directly to the on-board computer: a sort of miniature “black box” which will be able not only to supply the driver with useful information but also to receive data directly from the car's other electronic devices. The information can then be sent to the car itself by means of the transceiver inside the sensor, and allow the driver to correct his style of driving. The Cyber Tyre will first be developed for high performance cars, but in a few years' time it will also be available for small and medium powered cars, following the logic now common to all systems which aim to improve safety on the roads. Technology partnership Cyber Tyre's research and development is at the centre of a technology collaboration agreement between Pirelli, Brembo and Magneti Marelli. Cyber Tyre will be integrated into Magneti Marelli's electronic control systems and Brembo's advanced braking systems. The know-how and skills of the three Italian groups, recognized at the international level, will allow important synergies to be realized as well as the development of applications, particularly in the field of vehicle safety, aimed to reduce vehicle environmental impact, in line with the progress of international regulations and the European Union's new limits on C02 emissions, scheduled to come into force in 2012.