The handling characteristics of the average car are primarily determined by the tires and the few square inches that are their contact patch. Up until now, tires have been decidedly low tech, at least to the untrained eye. Pirelli is aiming to change this, while giving us more information about what happens where the rubber meets the road, with its upcoming Cyber Tyre technology.
Essentially, the Cyber Tyre is an intelligent tire with an RFID microchip embedded that communicates with the car's electronic systems, such as ABS and traction control, relaying information about the state of the tire. This information includes operating temperature and pressure, road surface information, vertical load exerted on the tire, and dimensions of the footprint area. The chip is powered by the vibrations of the rotating tire and is molded into the tire's carcass.
By monitoring the state of the tire, many problems, such as blowouts or fuel economy loss due to underinflation can be eliminated preemptively. Pirelli hopes that by locating sensors in the tire itself, the vehicle will be able to react more quickly to issues with traction than systems with the sensors located further up the drivetrain. We think that when you're dealing with thousands of pounds of metal rounding a turn while perched on a few square inches of rubber, every nanosecond counts.