At Traction Summit 2018, Dr. Hans R. Dorfi, Director of Core Systems Engineering at Bridgestone Americas recently sat down with Smithers Rapra for an exclusive Q&A around mobility trends the tire industry should be paying attention to, current innovations in tire technologies affecting the industry, as well as the biggest challenges for those working on future tire solutions.
What opportunities do autonomous vehicles present for the tire industry?
Autonomous driving will enable new business models with transportation and mobility as services. Safety, reliability, riding experience and low operating costs will be key enablers. Tires will play a significant role in all of these areas.
How would you define a smart tire?
There are many forms of “smarts” or tire intelligence. Some of this intelligence can reside in the tire such as sensors and some of it can reside in algorithms tracking the tire. In the end, the value is created by solving challenges and creating new value for our customers. This is what makes a tire truly smart.\
How do innovations in tire technologies impact the tire industry?
Tires have been continuously evolving and of course this trend is continuing in response to environmental and economic drivers. What is different now is that mobility is going through a rapid transformation of accelerating mega trends. This is driving new innovations in the tire industry as well, both in terms of new tire technologies geared toward addressing these trends such as tires optimized for electric vehicles operation and new tire business model innovations enabled by the trend toward consuming mobility as a service.
What mobility trends should the tire industry being paying attention to?
The key mobility trends are often summarized with the acronym CASE: Connected, Automated, Shared, Electrified. The convergence of these trends at virtually the same time will be driving both changes in tire technology (Connectivity, Electrification) and business models (Automation, Sharing).
What do you hope to see achieved over the next few years with regard to tire technology?
Sustainability of transportation and reducing the carbon footprint will be a continued focus for the transportation industry. Tires will continue to contribute to this vision through new materials, design concepts and data driven usage optimization. Bridgestone is committed to sustainability through its CSR initiatives and its 2050 sustainability goals.
What are some of the biggest challenges for those working on future tire solutions?
First and foremost future tire solutions need to create value to the customer. The technology in itself is the enabler but without building solutions around the technology that are easy to implement, operate and scale, the return on the technology investment will be an up-hill battle as adoption rates will be slow.
How can the tire industry educate their customers about future tires?
Great question. Different customers have different expectations from tires based on their personal or professional needs and preferences. The smart tire can be the digital thread that brings the specific tire attributes to life for customers through services and insights. These can then be used to educate, coach and advise customers to get the optimum benefit and added value from future smart tire technologies.