Bridgestone's city of the future includes self-driving cars that replace their own tyres

Solutions include smart tyres that track tyre wear

BRIDGESTONE has set out its vision for a city of the future focused around sustainable mobility, including self-driving electric cars and smart tyres.

The world’s largest tyre manufacturer showed off its environmentally friendly future city as part of the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show, which this year has been held virtually (something that is fast becoming familiar) due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The new “Bridgestone World” interactive website focuses on sustainable solutions to future modes of transport.

A system is envisioned that constantly monitors the tyre wear of self-driving vehicles and carries out preventative maintenance without disrupting the car’s usability or efficiency. Autonomous vehicles will drive themselves to repair centres before tyres become unsafe, where a quick replacement can be carried out and it returns to active duty in minutes.

Bridgestone also foresees tyres that will be made from materials and are ethically sourced, as recyclable as possible and need repairing replacing less often. “Every tyre will be connected to a digital thread of information, that helps maintain quality and maximise recycling,” said Bridgestone, with customised re-treading programmes set up to accommodate the needs of individual customers.

Bridgestone sees “smart tyres” playing a large role in future cities. They can track and transmit data including tread wear, environmental conditions and advanced data analytics in order to predict and prevent maintenance issues. RFID chips embeded in sidewalls can already help fleet operators keep track of each tyre’s lifespan.

The company says it is already working on increasing the longevity of its tyres, in order to help its entire supply chain become carbon neutral by 2050. It is currently testing “Airfree” tyres, which would prevent deflation, as well as a new, tougher rubber polymer called Susym.

Announced in 2019, the manufacturer claims that Susym is the “worlds first polymer that bonds rubber and resins on a molecular level”, resulting in a material that combines the flexible qualities of rubber with the durability of resin.

Bridgestone says the polymer is tough and versatile enough to be used in applications outside of transportion, while Sysym tyres are much more resistant to punctures than traditional rubber. If they do get a puncture, Susym can be quickly fixed simply by applying heat, rather than creating a need for a patch or tyre replacement, which means it can be reused multiple times, making it more environmentally friendly.

Susym tyres are also much more resistant to extreme cold temperatures. Whereas current tyres become brittle when the mercury drops, which makes it easy to crack, the new polymer retains its flexibility, improving performance and making it more resistant to impacts in chillier climes.

The company’s future city announcement comes just a day after Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, unveiled his plans to build a 170km (105.6 miles) “line city” which will house a million people and be powered by clean energy.

The construction of the city is expected to cost between $100bn and $200bn, and forms the first part of NEOM, a $500bn development in the north west of Saudi Arabia that aims to diminish the country’s economic reliance on oil.

If you enjoyed reading about Bridgestone’s vision of a future city, you might like to read about Jaguar’s self-driving “smart city hub”.