Bridgestone develops new sensor technology for autonomous vehicles

Smart Strain Sensor gathers tire wear and load information, even at low speeds

Tokyo (Dec. 18, 2019) – Bridgestone Corporation (Bridgestone) today announced the development of a technology capable of estimating a wheel axle load and tire wear condition by using newly developed sensors attached inside tires that measure the change in strain that occurs when a tire makes contact with the road while in motion. This technology is unique to Bridgestone and the first of its kind in the world.

The Smart Strain Sensor technology developed by Bridgestone incorporates next-generation Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. In addition to tracking tire inflation pressure and temperature, the Smart Strain Sensor is able to measure the dynamic change in strain that occurs when a tire is in use. A proprietary algorithm is applied to convert data gathered by the Smart Strain Sensor into tire load and wear information, which is then collected and sent to the cloud.

Bridgestone’s previously released sensing technology performs measurements based on accelerometer sensors, which require a certain amount of speed to acquire data. The new Smart Strain Sensor technology, however, measures strain, which is independent to speed. As such, the new technology is able to acquire highly reliable data even at low speeds. This is an important differentiator, as autonomous vehicles are expected to be operated at low speeds for enhanced safety. Furthermore, the proprietary algorithm contributes to substantial improvements in the battery lifespan of the Smart Strain Sensor, which is critically important for practical implementation.

Figure 1: Newly developed Smart Strain Sensor

Figure 2: Illustration of Smart Strain Sensor Operation

Figure 2 depicts the strain that occurs where the tire makes contact with the road. This waveform-data changes according to the load carried by the tire and the degree of wear. This technology is capable of recognizing and tracking a wide range of tire information in real time, helping to identify conditions such as tire tread wear.

Detecting a potential tire-related issue before it occurs helps ensure that drivers and their vehicles are able to safely reach their destinations. Equipping tires with Smart Strain Sensors allows vehicle managers to remotely monitor information such as tire air pressure, along with metrics pertaining to load and wear in real time. By monitoring tires and predicting maintenance issues before they occur, Bridgestone expects this technology to contribute to improved safety and productivity for fleets, as well as autonomous cars in the future society.

Bridgestone Tires and Diversified Products as a Solution (Bridgestone T&DPaaS) is the company’s platform of unique solutions that creating value for customers and contribute to society’s advancement. In this capacity Bridgestone will link its products and services with digital technologies to transform into a company that advances mobility. Going forward, Bridgestone will proactively utilize ICT and other cutting-edge technologies to promote innovation through business model development and across the value chain with the goal of ensuring a safe and secure motoring society. At the same time, Bridgestone will enhance the safety and reliability of tires when used for together with new mobility forms such as automated driving.

About Bridgestone Corporation:
Bridgestone Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. In addition to tires for use in a wide variety of applications, it also manufactures a broad range of diversified products, which include industrial rubber and chemical products and sporting goods. Its products are sold in over 150 nations and territories around the world.