The Eagle has landed: Goodyear unveils visionary tyre that can think, feel and heal (article by Leanne Taylor in bp&r)

7 March 2017

Interesting article from Leanne Taylor in the bp&r (British Plastics & Rubber), 7 March 2017

"Goodyear has unveiled a visionary new ‘smart tyre’ that it says demonstrates the intelligence required by future and autonomous driving through interaction between tyres, vehicles and their surroundings.

The ‘Eagle 360 Urban’, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, is a 3D printed, spherical tyre that Goodyear says is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). This, it says, means the technology utilised within the concept allows the tyre to “sense, decide, transform and act” according to its surroundings.

“A revolution will take place at the intersection of autonomy, mobility and connectivity. As this unfolds, tyre technology will be even more important than it is today,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, President of Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“To safely navigate their surroundings, the autonomous vehicles of the future will need to learn to cope with the millions of possible unknowns we face in every day driving scenarios. To do so they will need access to data and the ability to learn and adapt.”

Last year, with the ‘Eagle 360’ concept tyre, Goodyear presented a unique, multi-directional sphere-shape to match the demands of autonomous driving through increased levels of comfort, safety and maneuverability. The positive feedback received encouraged the manufacturer to take this concept even further.

This year, with the Eagle 360 Urban, Goodyear says it is pushing the boundaries again, aiming to illustrate a vision of how the future could look. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, Goodyear is giving the concept tyre a 'brain'.

Combined with a bionic skin and morphing tread, Goodyear says the Eagle 360 Urban “has the ability to put knowledge into practice.” The tyre will become part of the vehicle's 'nervous system' and the connected world of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Skin deep

The Eagle 360 Urban tyre features bionic skin with a sensor network that allows it to check on its own status and gather information on its environment, including the road surface. Via connectivity with other vehicles as well as infrastructure, traffic and mobility management systems, the Eagle 360 Urban also captures information on its surroundings in real-time.

By combining these sources of information and processing them instantaneously using neural networks trained with deep learning algorithms, the Eagle 360 Urban decides the most appropriate course of action. And, powered by Artificial Intelligence, the Eagle 360 Urban learns from previous actions how to optimise future responses.

Made of super-elastic polymer, the tyre's bionic skin has a flexibility similar to that of human skin, allowing it to expand and contract. This outer layer covers a foam-like material that is strong enough to remain flexible despite the weight of a vehicle. Thanks to this flexibility, actuator elements beneath the tyre's surface, which are components that change shape with an electrical input, working like human muscles, can re-shape the individual sections of the tyre's tread design, adding 'dimples' for wet conditions or smoothing the tread for dry conditions. A new tread with a safer contact patch is thus deployed.

Using this morphing tread, the Eagle 360 Urban transforms and adapts to changing road and weather conditions. The concept tyre can then interact to share the information it has captured, the related action and its success with other vehicles and all of the elements making up the Internet of Things.

The tyre can also detect when its bionic skin has been damaged through puncture, as well as having the ability self-heal. The self-healing works thanks to materials which are specifically designed to be able to flow towards the puncture. They react physically and chemically with each other to form new molecular bonds, closing the puncture.

Goodyear says this new generation of tyres will create added value for OEM partners in maximising uptime and providing proactive maintenance, as well as commuters for an improved and safer experience of autonomous driving."