Today’s tyres may offer a blend of ride quality and handling across a variety of conditions but they are still sub-optimal for winter conditions, spirited driving and off-road usage. An ideal tyre is something that could automatically adapt its configuration to optimise itself for any condition.
If that sounds like the stuff you find in science fiction movies or story books, then don’t tell that to German research scientist Detlef Riemer who heads a team of researchers in the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. Riemer and his team are working on adaptive tyres. These tyres adjust themselves for optimum grip and fuel efficiency regardless of terrain and weather.
Sensors are embedded into the tyres and these sensors recognise changes in terrain and also environmental conditions. Actuators in the tyre’s tread can then reconfigure the tread’s geometry to optimise grip for condition changes. Materials used should work in harmony to produce the desired results and they include flexible actuators, piezo-ceramic actuators, shape memory alloys and other “smart” materials.
Don’t expect to see these adaptive tyres on your ride soon as it is still in the conceptual stage and such technology would take years before it is ready for commercial use, assuming it meets safety and quality standards.