It seems like a pipe-dream but the reality of a self-inflating tyre is becoming ever-closer thanks to a new brace of concepts from Continental.
The German automotive giant displayed its new Conti C.A.R.E. (Connected. Autonomous. Reliable. Electrified) technology systems at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, that is set to become the bridge between tyres and the autonomous and electric cars of the future.
Conti C.A.R.E. tyres will be fitted with sensors that are ingrained into the tyre's tread construction (below), which can then generate and report on data relating to tread depth, possible damage, tyre temperatures and pressures.
This monitoring system - named ContiSense - will transmit this data to a web-based ContiConnect Live application, which can be used to monitor tyre life across a company vehicle fleet in real time, for example, or can be enabled to send an alert to a car owner's phone that a tyre is damaged.
Most interesting to us, though, is the idea that this new technology can be used to help a car to self-inflate its own tyres, via an ingenious wheel-tyre system that uses self-generated air to look after its own pressure.
When a vehicle accelerates, the centrifugal forces within the wheel act on pumps which then generate compressed air which is stored in a canister (shown below).
Tyre pressures are continuously monitored and adjusted within the ideal pressure range based on prevailing conditions, and any excess air is stored for later.
The technology can also use the stored air to adapt the tyre pressures to different driving scenarios - for example, reducing pressures in loose or sandy conditions, or compensating for excess pressure caused by high-speed or hot-weather running.
This new technology is designed to integrate with the autonomous cars of the future. Think of a fleet of so-called autonomous robo-taxis, for example, which will be able to monitor its own tyre pressures and adjust them accordingly. In fact, Continental provided a robo-taxi shuttle service around the Frankfurt show precinct.
Continental's tyre division is just one-quarter of its total business; it is heavily involved in the production and development of electronic driver aid systems, for example, as well as building the technology for autonomous cars.