Helsel said Local Motors is one of the first suppliers to have Level 4 autonomous shuttles in operation. "This, in addition to a cutting-edge 3D manufacturing approach, makes Local Motors a key company with which to learn and build future solutions together," he said. The Olli, he added, also brings together under one architecture the four core trends of FACE.
In addition, Goodyear began a pilot program with Envoy Technologies Inc., an electric vehicle car-sharing service, where Envoy will use the tire maker's predictive tire servicing program to forecast and schedule tire maintenance and replacement.
"Wireless sensors in tires can collect data to help run fleets better, along with combining the data with our algorithms to predict tire wear, eventual replacement and smart scheduling of needed service," he said. "We even can install tires on-site as the vehicles are at their charging stations, with the use of mobile service vans."
Those programs are in addition to year-long pilot program with Tesloop, a city-to-city mobility service that exclusively uses Tesla electric vehicles, and Goodyear's initiative to participate in autonomous vehicle and intelligent tire testing at Mcity. The latter is a University of Michigan-led public-private partnership designed to enhance connected and automated vehicles and supportive technologies.
"With Local Motors, and with Mcity's autonomous vehicles, we continue to learn more about tire performance requirements in AVs and we discover more about how a 'perfect' driver can have an impact on tire performance," the Goodyear executive said.
In deciding who to partner with, he said many books on innovation suggest it's all about disrupting someone else. Helsel and Goodyear take a different view.
"Shouldn't we instead be talking about how the traditional and the startup can work together for a better future?" he asked. "Instead of 'out with the old and in with the new,' what if we focused on disruption in the form of disruptive collaboration?"
He said the startup pitches Goodyear hears are from small companies that have agility, a good complement to a large corporation like Goodyear that brings experience and the resources to bring projects to scale. "If we find common ground where we can work on joint projects, we disrupt together, rather than each other," Helsel said. "This collaboration is all the more important as we shape a new mobility ecosystem."
That doesn't mean it doesn't continue to collaborate with traditional companies. He said Goodyear is working with OEMs and others to put sensors in tires, then outfitting them on vehicles to help gather data, sync that with the vehicles, and generate real-time driving adjustments to improve the performance of the car.
"It's not just about putting sensors in tires; we have been doing various forms of that for years," the Goodyear CTO said. "It's taking the data, interpreting it through data analytics, and helping the car drive better and the car owner to be more efficient. As the only link to the road, the tire will remain at the core of mobility today and tomorrow.
"But tires will evolve. And we will work with various companies—big and small, new and old, traditional and startup—to introduce innovations that become solutions."
With all these balls in the air, Goodyear has to strike the proper balance between R&D projects that need to be pushed to market now, with others that may be the building blocks for developments that may not be commercial for years.