TYRES, bastions of all things black and round, haven’t had a major change in technology for decades.
However, that could soon change with Continental Tires announcing that it is working on tech which will allow for tyre pressure, and rim width, to adapt the contact patch to road conditions.
A bit confused? That’s okay. Essentially, this new technology will allow a tyre’s pressure to be adjusted on the fly, allowing for optimal grip levels. Similarly, the size of the contact patch will also be adjustable, even when the vehicle and tyre is in motion.
It should be noted the two systems are individual of each other – ContiSense for tyre pressures, ContiAdapt for contact patch.
The core of the ContiSense technology is the development of electrically conductive rubber to allow for signals to be sent from sensors in the tyre to computers within the car.
“If anything penetrates the tread, a circuit in the tire is closed, also triggering an immediate warning for the driver,” the Continental release states.
Meanwhile, ContiAdapt relies on a variable width wheel rim to change the size of the contact patch while in motion.
“Four different combinations allow perfect adaptation to wet, uneven, slippery, and normal conditions,” the release reads.
“For example, a smaller contact patch combined with high tyre pressures make for low rolling resistance and energy-efficient driving on smooth, dry roads.
“By contrast, the combination of a larger contact patch with lower tire pressure delivers ideal grip on slippery roads.
“The system also permits very low tire pressures of below 1 bar to be set, to help ease the vehicle out of a parking space in deep snow, for example, or traverse a dangerous stretch of black ice.”
While not yet in production form, the concept technology gives us a glimpse at the kind of rubber future vehicles could be rolling atop.