TOKYO—Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. has set out a series of targets for its development of innovative tire products to meet increasing requirements around safety, sustainability and connected mobility.
Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Smart Tire Concept roadmap will see Sumitomo begin mass production, in 2020, of a new tire that maintains its 'brand-new performance' for longer.
That same year, the tire maker aims to unveil a concept tire with new materials that enhance environmental performance throughout its entire lifecycle—from raw materials and tire production to shipping, usage and even recycling.
In 2023, Sumitomo plans to unveil a new concept tire that incorporates its 'active tread' technology. This which will enable it to maintain high levels of performance regardless of road conditions.
As a wider goal, Sumitomo said it would continue these and other research and development efforts towards a goal of creating an all-new tire that incorporates all of its Smart Tire Concept technologies. This product is set to emerge by the latter half of the next decade.
The company went on to identify key technologies behind its Smart Tire Concept. These include its sensing core technology that transforms tires into sensors by installing a proprietary algorithm in a vehicle's brake system.
Sensing core is said to detect slipperiness and other road conditions as well as tire conditions such as wear, load and air pressure. This data is collected and processed not only for vehicle control purposes, but also for cloud-based big data analysis.
Sumitomo is also developing technology that responds to changes in road conditions by actively changing the functionality of tread rubber to optimize performance for the current road surface and temperature, thus ensuring uninterrupted safe driving and peace of mind even when faced with sudden changes in road conditions during automated driving.
A third key area of focus on countering the degradation of tire performance due to wear and rubber deterioration to maintain the performance of a tire like brand new for longer. Sumitomo said this kind of technology is already in use in studless tires launched last year.
This R&D effort includes the development of new materials that enable rubber to control and recover from internal structural deformation and that compensate for functionality that has been lost due to rubber deterioration.