At Goodyear, the Rubber Meets the Road with IoT

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The smart tire will be an important component of Goodyear’s digital services rollout.

IoT devices and sensors are being put into a lot of products these days — even tires. The application of connected intelligence in automobile and heavy equipment tires is part of the latest turn to digital transformation for venerable tire maker Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

Goodyear’s smart-tire strategy was recently detailed by Chris Helsel, senior vice president and CTO for Goodyear, in an interview with CXOTalk’s Michael Krigsman. Digital transformation is taking place at two levels within the 120-year-old company, he says. Data is now being applied to machine-learning algorithms for simulations, to “produce some really effective tools that can give insights to our designers and material developers without having to build and test tires.”

See also: Pirelli Previews 5G Connected Tires

Data will also be streaming from the products themselves to provide insights to Goodyear on how products are performing in the field. “We are putting sensors into our tires to do basically three different missions,” Helsel explains. “Mission one is to have real-time ID of our tires, where they are and, secondly, the condition of those tires. Are they properly inflated? Are they worn out? Then the third, and really the long-term goal for sensors and tires is to turn the tire itself almost into a sensor and how that integrates with the vehicle and vehicle developers today.”

In making this transition, Goodyear is re-inventing itself as not just a tire producer, but as a mobility company. It supports a network of endpoints, with each tire a node on this network. “Just think of this. We sell over 150 million tires a year,” Helsel illustrates. “Your average driver drives 10,000 miles a year. We have all those data points, at any given time, touching roads.” It goes further, in which Goodyear could potentially produce a Google Maps-style rendering of road surfaces, he adds.

“What would you do with that information? What kind of problems can we help solve with respect to smart infrastructure and helping to make the driving experience all the better for people, or all the more safe, especially when we start talking about enabling autonomous vehicles?”

The result of these smart tires will enable drivers and fleet owners to make adjustments for performance, saving fuel, and reducing maintenance requirements. Treadwear can be proactively monitored. In addition, integrating data from tires with other parts of vehicles — such as automatic braking systems (ABS) is one such application. “We’ve found that tires, as they wear and you give up some of the stopping distance, is one key parameter,” says Helsel. “You can recover up to 30 percent of that stopping distance simply by knowing what tire is on there and that ABS knowing to use certain characteristics because it knows the tire.”

The smart tire will be an important component of Goodyear’s digital services rollout, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The platform, called AndGo, enables Goodyear to connect to vehicle fleets, “and completely have a digital relationship and transactions to both monitor vehicles, request vehicle service, and completely coordinate this digitally,” Helsel says.

Helsel’s vision is compelling: “Just like you would ask for an Uber ride, you could ask for a Goodyear service to come out and clean your car, check the tires, or ask for a Goodyear service to coordinate service to maybe even get warrantee service done.”

And if a tire is low on air, it can signal Goodyear, “so we can proactively reach out even before the customer does. We could actually anticipate that flat tire and get it taken care of.”

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About Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is RTInsights Industry Editor. He is a regular contributor to Forbes on digital, cloud and Big Data topics. He served on the organizing committee for the recent IEEE International Conference on Edge Computing (full bio). Follow him on Twitter @joemckendrick.

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