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Pirelli's smart tires - what's next?

Matthew Sheedy

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Interesting but its so first generation for me. So they can measure Pressure, temperature, wear, vertical load and distance travelled. However, all they are doing with it is telling you when you need to change your tyre, connect you with their local dealer and maybe order online via your smart phone.

Many consumers will be totally underwhelmed by this because what this is NOT doing is changing the business model. For example, I already know where and how to get my tires change. I get the impression that some engineer has said, let's instrument these tyres because we can and some marketing person said "we need to lock customers into our brand". That turns me off more than inspires me. It doesn't make me want to have a relationship with this brand.

What companies like this need to be doing is using their imagination to create new relationships and business models. First thing that springs to mind is safety - let say around learner drivers and teenage boys in particular - a known high risk category.. Maybe some metrics and real-time feedback on better cornering techniques and advanced driver training. A tyre company providing driver training? Why not. Parents would probably pay anything to get their teenage boys through their hormonal years safely. So now the tyre company has a relationship and new service offering to concerned parents. 

I really believe that we have to skip the whole first generation phase in IOT and let our imagination run wild. What other things can you think of, that we could do with an instrumented tyre?

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I agree Tim - the first generation phase in IOT should be a gimme for most applications. And not particularly interesting or informative.

I think the challenge we face is that some of the things we want to use IOT data streams for are actually emergent properties. And we often need to be collecting the gimme data products from several elements in a system before we can start to interpret the bigger picture.

For tyres, I can see feedback mechanisms for fuel efficiency and suspension wear based on what an instrumented tyre is reporting. And if you apply this to the transport industry, you could look at predictive indicators for tyre failure as simple measure, or tie it into the Mass Management system for increased payloads. Link all of this to an IOT enabled road and some active tyre / vehicle control mechanisms and you could have big improvements for safety, capacity and maintenance costs.

But I won't know if I can do any of those things until I start measuring the components to see what causal relationship exists between each sub-system. So on this, I'm not concerned that Pirelli are just selling tyres, as that's about all they can do with what has been established. And this application is just one 'thing' in the IOT. 

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Good points. The power, as it so often does, comes from combining data sources. Tyre pressure with fuel consumption by route - what is optimal? Tyre temperature with pressure, ambient temperature, vehicle speed and driver identity - who's smoking the tyres? Shock events, location on vehicle and vehicle position, aggregated over many vehicles - pothole detector!


But Jason's point is a good one - sometimes you just need to start instrumenting and discover the insights later. I'll give you a recent example - the instrumented pneumatic tube vehicle counters we developed for our Smart Parking system report on various parameters that aren't critical to the core product. One started to fail recently in a way we hadn't seen before. Turns out one of the tubes had lost its springiness. But thanks to our collected data, we now have a unique data signature that alerts us to a pending "springiness" failure! We can even see the clear progression from healthy to point of failure, and combined with traffic counts and ambient temperature records, we can predict time to failure. That's really quite powerful, yet we never imagined it when we were designing it.


Last thought... how do they measure vertical load from within the tyre? Maybe it's based on internal tyre height at the bottom of the tyre vs at the top to get a measure of deformation, combined with the tyre pressure to get total load on the rubber? I can't see that being particularly accurate!

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Thank you all for feedback and input on this thread, it is simply amazing the diversity and creative solutions one can come up with when we can collect and process lots of data/information. Which is perhaps well beyond the "marketing team's" strategic plan to sell more tyres, i.e. the novelty factor and first to market with an internet enable tyre.

However the collection and the combining of various data source is a double edge sword and a means to de-identify will play an important role for IoT. e.g. the classic example is personal health information and insurance companies.

And following on my other point about marketing and novelty, I must admit I had a little chuckle when I saw in this Month's (Mar-2017) IEEE's Spectrum a comment about a 1960's Goodyear advert for "translucent tires." see file attached.

Translucent tires.pdf

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