Continental
65ae88f80b8446001ef554bb Continental Ces2024 Aurora Driverless Truck

Tiremakers roll out new tech at CES 2024

Jan. 23, 2024
The technology around tires is rapidly advancing, and Bridgestone, Continental, and Goodyear all had new wares to show off at the latest Consumer Electronics Show.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is a wrap, and while self-driving trucks and flying cars dominated the headlines in the transportation technology space, several tiremakers offered a glimpse into their more grounded tech as well. 

Bridgestone focuses on fleet safety, mobile maintenance

As data and telematics become a more foundational component of tire management programs, Bridgestone has steadily improved its capabilities with Fleet Care, the company's "end-to-end solutions for fleet management, leveraging sophisticated platforms to help keep vehicles, assets, and drivers safe and operating efficiently."

The system employs the latest in asset safety and management tech, including GPS tracking, video telematics, driver coaching, accident reduction solutions, route optimization, and asset utilization tools, to reduce total cost of tire ownership and overall downtime. Much of this was enabled by Bridgestone's 2021 acquisition of Azuga Fleet Management Solutions, which provides dual-facing dash cams, asset tracking, and coaching software to detect harsh braking and accelerating events.

Internal tests using Firestone Direct mobile maintenance vans found that driver coaching reduced risky driving by 90%. Externally, Southern Tire Mart reported that the dash cams reduced speeding events by 54% and exonerated their drivers in 15 not-at-fault accidents.

"So many times, it is [our word against theirs], but by having cameras in our vehicles we know exactly how the accident occurred and whether or not our driver was at fault," explained Rusty Robertson, safety manager at Southern Tire Mart. 

Read more: CES 2024: AVs, lidar, and tire technology

Robertson added that utilizing Azuga's maintenance data "can help a fleet be more efficient and also help keep our vehicles serviced properly, which in turn leads to fewer breakdowns."

Bridgestone also showed off its ENLITEN technology at CES. The technology stack “marks a major pivot in how the company approaches tire design to deliver both dynamic performance and increased use of renewable and recycled materials," the company said. Overall, ENLITEN should enable enhanced performance in regard to tire casing, durability, retreadability, rolling resistance, and wear, Bridgestone stated. 

Bridgestone's Warren County Tire Plant in Tennessee, which is slated to complete a $550 million upgrade by May, will also integrate ENLITEN technology for commercial applications.

Bridgestone also highlighted its suite of tire monitoring and management solutions.

“By making tires smarter through real-time tire monitoring, these solutions are designed to help fleets reduce tire costs, increase productivity and improve safety,” say Bridgestone officials.

Bridgestone also helped Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) release a new technology making it easier to report signs of human trafficking on U.S. roads. Bridgestone has partnered with TAT for more than a decade.

Continental races into future

Continental's highlights from CES 2024 include:

  • Progress in commercializing autonomous truck hardware and redundancy system
  • Semi-transparent microLED display
  • Facial recognition to start and unlock vehicle

Continental and AV developer Aurora finalized key design and architectural features of the Aurora Driver Level 4 autonomous driving system. These deal with hardware and future fallback systems, and the companies said they are now closer to commercializing self-driving trucks at scale in the next four years. Aurora plans to launch its first driverless truck by the end of 2024.

The industrialized fallback system, a mandatory redundancy system that kicks in if the main autonomous system fails, is slated for 2027 production.

“Technologies for autonomous mobility present the biggest opportunity to transform driving behavior since the creation of the automobile,” said Philipp von Hirschheydt, Executive Board member for the Automotive Group Sector at Continental. “Achieving this milestone puts us on a credible path to deploy easy-to-service autonomous trucking systems that customers demand.”

Continental also showed off its 10” Crystal Center Display, which uses state-of-the-art microLED technology and was developed in conjunction with Swarovski Mobility for luxury vehicles. The images appear to float within the semi-transparent crystal housing, giving off major Minority Report vibes. The swanky screen might not have an immediate use in the commercial vehicle space, but as trucks become more like mobile offices, there could be several practical uses for this type of tech down the road.

One piece of sci-fi tech that fleets could leverage far sooner is Continental’s “Face Authentication Display.” This two-stage access control system scans biometric markers of the person behind the wheel to authorize vehicle start-up. The camera system is mounted externally on the vehicle’s B-pillar and appears invisible. This facial recognition technology could also be used to allow for keyless entry.

Attempts to trick the system with a digital image would be thwarted due to the system’s double-authentication requirement of sensing real skin. The technology developed by trinamiX can also detect masks.

“trinamiX Face Authentication ensures the highest security standards in both the exterior and interior," said Wilfried Hermes, director of Consumer Electronics, North America and Europe at trinamiX. "Together with Continental, we are improving existing driver monitoring systems and thus ensuring better interaction between the driver and the vehicle. The installation behind the OLED panel also enables exclusive display designs."

Goodyear sets sights on tire data

Goodyear's CES announcements centered around partnerships with:

  • ZF
  • Gatik
  • TNO
  • TDK

Through a joint effort with ZF, Goodyear is aiming to improve driver comfort, control, and efficiency. by integrating its Goodyear SightLine suite of intelligence technologies, which can offer tire pressure and temperature, road condition, ambient temperature, and more—into ZF’s motion control software called the cubiX ecosystem.

“Goodyear SightLine will deepen our connection to the road and expand the scope and value of cubiX by supporting the era of software-defined vehicles,” asserted Martin Fischer, member of the board of management responsible for the ZF Chassis Solution division.  “By joining our ecosystems, our customers will unlock a range of possibilities to customize and optimize their solutions in both vehicle motion and tire intelligence.” 

Autonomous vehicles

Goodyear also announced that its work with autonomous middle-mile truck developer Gatik is progressing. Goodyear announced in 2021 that it would equip Gatik’s box trucks with SightLine, and that integration is now complete.

“The real-time data derived from intelligent tire technology not only enhances the safety and predictability of our autonomous vehicles but also enables us to maintain high levels of efficiency, reliability, and delivery uptime throughout our operations,” said Gautam Narang, co-founder and CEO of Gatik.

Gatik’s Classes 3 to 6 trucks also use Goodyear’s Endurance RSA tires.

ABS

In conjunction with TNO, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Goodyear also previewed the potential future of vehicle safety. In this demo, Goodyear paired its tire intelligence technology into a test vehicle’s anti-lock brake system (ABS) controller to offer tire type and wear data to the system. Testing indicated this could cut braking distance by 5.75 feet, according to officials.

“Our collaborative work with TNO has yielded invaluable insights, with exciting possibilities to deliver greater value to our customers and support the future of mobility,” says Werner Happenhofer, vice president, of tire intelligence and eMobility solutions, Goodyear. 

Sensors

Finally, Goodyear announced a collaboration with TDK Corp. to bring tire sensing systems to market, which will leverage TDK’s software, sensor and electronic components, along with Goodyear’s prowess in design and manufacturing, software suites, and industry insights.

“This alliance will have the joint benefit of accelerating both technology and customer access to the highest performance sensor technology in the market,” said Jim Tran, general manager, of Americas HQ and deputy general manager, of technology and intellectual property center, TDK Corp.

About the Author

John Hitch | Editor-in-chief, Fleet Maintenance

John Hitch is the editor-in-chief of Fleet Maintenance, where his mission is to provide maintenance management and technicians with the the latest information on the tools and strategies to keep their fleets' commercial vehicles moving.

He is based out of Cleveland, Ohio, and has worked in the B2B journalism space for more than a decade.

Hitch was previously senior editor for FleetOwner, and covers everything related to trucking and commercial vehicle equipment, including breaking news, the latest trends and best practices. He previously wrote about manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest.

Prior to that he was editor for Kent State University's student magazine, The Burr, and a freelancer for Cleveland Magazine. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician, where he served honorably aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723).

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