A tire is the only point of direct contact between a vehicle and the road, allowing it to collect valuable information. The tires serve as connectors.

FREMONT, CA: Tires are communication conduits between the road and the vehicle; they are the final link in the safety chain. Their construction, appearance, and function are constantly evolving. Minor changes are still happening in the tire industry despite the rarity of breakthroughs. And as the automotive industry evolves, tires must also evolve to become more.

Bringing drivers closer to the road

Using tire pressure monitoring systems, manufacturers have developed technology that connects a tire to its vehicle, informing drivers of the need for routine maintenance. Manufacturers are taking this further by expanding the technology beyond tires and cars.

Consider Goodyear's SightLine and Hankook Tire & Technology Co., Ltd.'s Road Risk Detection Solution as examples. These technologies alert drivers and the vehicle to the tire's condition. Still, they also monitor road conditions and hazards in real-time, such as temperature, wet or dry conditions, and terrain, to generate actionable solutions that help drivers stay ahead of potential challenges.

And as the automotive industry moves toward an autonomous future, tires, as the only connection between the vehicle and the road, must perform additional functions, especially if there is potentially no driver to inspect the tire or the road hazards.

Combat the level

Manufacturers are making replacing or repairing a flat tire more convenient, although a flat tire is never a good thing. Run-flat and self-sealing tires aren't technically new to the market, but they're gradually gaining popularity, especially in anticipation of an autonomous future.

Run-flat and self-sealing tires allow drivers to move their vehicles to safer areas to change their tires or reach an auto repair shop, as opposed to changing a tire in heavy traffic or requiring a tow.

Bridgestone, for instance, demonstrates two variations: a self-supporting tire and a support ring system.

According to Bridgestone, consumers know more about run-flat technology than they did in the 1980s. Some automakers even require them on all new vehicles.

The self-supporting tire has reinforced sidewalls that allow it to continue supporting the vehicle after air loss. On the other hand, the supporting ring system utilizes a hard rubber ring within the tire to keep the vehicle's weight.

Self-sealing tires, such as Hankook's SealGuard, Continental A.G.'s ContiSeal, and Michelin's SelfSeal, are also available to drivers. Self-sealing tires utilize a natural rubber sealant that fills a puncture as it occurs to prevent air loss up to approximately 14 inches (5-6 mm).