Gatik truck outfitted with Goodyear tires
A successful proof of concept test conducted by Goodyear and Gatik has demonstrated that tires can now be utilized to detect issues in autonomous vehicles. Photo: Gatik

Gatik is testing Goodyear’s tire intelligence technology on its autonomous trucks for Loblaw to understand better how it may help autonomous fleets run more efficiently and safely

A successful proof of concept conducted by Goodyear on the driverless vehicles of Gatik’s Loblaw fleet in Toronto proves smart tires can detect issues in autonomous vehicles.

Gatik, a middle-mile logistics company with offices in Canada and the U.S., started using “smart” tires supplied by Goodyear during the summer last year to study the impact on its autonomous fleet. The two companies have been collaborating since September 2021 to advance the development of safer, more sustainable and cost-effective mobility solutions.

The tire intelligence technology developed by Goodyear is called SightLine.

“For several years now, we have been building our tire intelligence strategy. We have [been asking] – ‘How can we add more value to our customers [for] where they want to go in the future with the unique position that we have?’ says Erin Spring, senior director of Global Materials Science, Goodyear in an interview with Electric Autonomy.

“We set out on our journey to start digitizing that [tire] footprint where in the past was only a mechanical connection between the road and the vehicle.”

The company started by designing products with technology capable of determining the pressure tread depth, the load and the axle but eventually received feedback from their customers that they needed to develop technology for road friction.

“Then in comes Gatik. We had some technology in the works, and then we agreed – ‘Hey, let’s try it out. Let’s work on it together in the wild [and] out on the real road and real conditions,'” says Spring.

Testing technology in Canadian winter

Gatik is currently running its driverless commercial deliveries for grocery giant Loblaw in Ontario, outfitted with Goodyear’s road friction detection technology, SightLine.

The Goodyear tires are equipped with sensors that monitor wear, load, inflation pressure and temperature. The technology can also track rubber friction and real-time road weather data.

“We implemented the technology [on Gatik’s fleet] and quite frankly, it was a little boring,” says Spring. “Dry roads – we know we know that pretty well. But as the weather was changing and being able to validate that we can tell in that local area on the road, what that friction level was, was quite a success. Now we’re working and we’ll be integrating it into their system more fully.”

Goodyear is able to aggregate information to estimate the tire-road friction potential and, ultimately, optimize vehicle performance through its cloud-based proprietary algorithms.

Results and next steps

The friction estimates from Goodyear tires identified low-grip driving conditions, such as snowy or icy conditions.

“Given the critical data Goodyear’s SightLine technology supplies to our vehicles, and the ability to detect low grip conditions, initially deploying in Canada was a natural starting point,” says a spokesperson for Gatik in an email to Electric Autonomy.

In real-world applications, Gatik says it can use information from smart tires to help with path planning and provide recommendations for safe driving speeds, vehicle acceleration limits and vehicle following distance for their autonomous fleet.

The logistic company will continue to work with Goodyear to explore how intelligent tires may be incorporated into some of their other operations across North America, says the spokesperson.

For its part, Goodyear is also planning to incorporate more capabilities into the SightLine technology.

New features will include environmental perception with improved vehicle localization to pinpoint the position of an autonomous vehicle on the road, motion planning, tire roadworthiness check and vehicle control with optimized traction, braking and steering.

Goodyear also says it plans to partner with other OEMs to deploy its SightLine technology on more vehicles later this year.

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