TOKYO—Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. has developed an artificial intelligence-based system that it claims can predict the physical properties of rubber compounds, a development the company said will enable it to accelerate compound development and reduce development costs.
The system, developed under YRC's "HAICoLab" AI utilization concept, already is being used to design rubber compounds for tires and will allow the company to conduct large numbers of virtual experiments that eventually will lead to the development of better-performing products.
The system uses AI to predict a rubber compound's physical properties based on the rubber compound design parameters input by an engineer, YRC said. In addition, to facilitate engineers' ability to confirm predicted results, the system includes a function that displays the certainty of predicted physical properties and one that searches for a compound composition that will achieve physical properties closest to the targeted ones.
The new system fosters collaborations between humans and AI that will lead to the acquisition of new knowledge, YRC claims. This aspect also opens the door for less-experienced engineers to create new compounds.
Yokohama said it expects to expand the use of this new system for developing rubber compounds for a wide range of products other than tires, including hoses and conveyor belts.
HAICoLab—an acronym for "Humans and AI ColLaborate"—is a concept developed by YRC aimed at fostering digital innovations by facilitating collaborative efforts that merge human inspiration and creativity with the enormous data processing capability of AI. Yokohama aims to acquire new knowledge by creating and collecting data based on hypothetical conditions set by humans and then applying AI to predict, analyze and search for the most optimal result.
YRC said it has been advancing technological developments by using AI in its material and tire design and development processes for the past several years. In 2017, for example, it unveiled a rubber material development technology that applies materials informatics and a tire design technology that applies informatics technology.
Under the HAICoLab concept, Yokohama is using AI to develop innovative products and services as well as processes. Through this effort, YRC will contribute to the realization of "Society 5.0," a future society that will enhance people's experiences and take advantage of innovative technologies such as AI and IoT, as advocated by the Japanese government's Cabinet Office.