With all the talk of the connected car and other advances in automotive technologies, the dramatically shifting intelligence in tires has largely escaped attention. Now Michelin has raised the bar, becoming the first manufacturer to sell a connected tire solution to private owners.
Though only being offered in select markets–France, Switzerland, Germany now, EU and USA by 2019 (though no specific word on Canada at this time)–Michelin Track Connect technology is designed to enhance the circuit driving experience for the sporting set. Introduced to the high-tone Porsche GT Club UAE in Dubai in April, the concept uses the power of digital technology to enhance circuit driving experience.
With Track Connect, Michelin has further improved experiences associated with tires with permanent monitoring of conditions such as wear, pressure, temperature and mileage from sensors installed in the tires.
The technology has a unique sensor positioned inside the tire that ensures reliable and accurate tire temperature path. The sensors relay information to a receiver placed inside the vehicle, which then sends the information to the driver’s smartphone application, eliminating the need for any professional intervention.
Previously, drivers at the skilled amateur level largely had to rely on post-lap temperature readings, a deep knowledge of wear patterns, and a finely tuned seat-of-the-pants feel to make little better than an educated guess about tire setup. Making an error is costly both in terms of time on a lap and in damage to tires in as little as a few laps. The high-dollar enthusiast set may not care about the cost of replacing those tires but they do care about losing lap time and having to cut their day short because they’ve destroyed them.
At the live driving demonstration to members of Porsche GT Club UAE in Dubai while explaining features of the new innovation, Jerome Haslin, Michelin Chief Tire Tester specialized in sports and racing cars with focus on Porsche said, “Michelin Track Connect is our answer to bring the most innovative solution on the market to sports car owners and equip them with reliable measurements of their tires to optimize vehicle behaviour for circuit driving. Delivering our customers with performance and driving pleasure has been our prime objective, especially because under intensive use on a circuit, brakes are subjected to heavy demand and send a lot of heat to the rims which could disrupt pressure measurements.”
Michelin Track Connect assists the driver before, during and after circuit runs.
- Before: The application recommends the most suitable pressure for the vehicle’s tyres and for driving conditions such as dry circuit, damp circuit, wet circuit.
- During: Michelin Track Connect offers the driver real-time information about pressure and temperature of each of the vehicle’s four tyres. The sensors inside the tyre can accurately measure the tyre pressure and temperature and analyze any data changes as the vehicle goes around the circuit. The smartphone application acts as an interface for the driver and guides him to optimize calibration of tyre pressure. The information is also put into context to the driver interpret it correctly. For instance, with Michelin Track Connect the driver is able to gauge whether the tyres are operating within optimal limits according to the run’s driving conditions as stated (dry circuit, damp circuit, wet circuit). It is also possible for the pilot to see how his vehicle is behaving (oversteering or understeering) according to the analysis of changes in the balance between front tire pressure and rear tire pressure.
- After: Michelin Track Connect will indicate what adjustments need to be made prior to returning on to the circuit. In order to provide a finer analysis, all information is stored and may be accessed at a later stage so the driver may examine his performance and that of tyres between two runs.
Michelin leveraged the expertise of two innovative start-ups -Openium for software development and Exotic Systems for hardware. Both start-ups worked with Michelin Ladoux Technology Center/Connected Platform to design and develop content for enthusiasts doing circuit runs. The solution was tested on Michelin test tracks, testing machines, trials on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife (the circuit’s north loop), renowned for making extreme demands on drivers. Subsequently, Michelin Track Connect was recently tested at a Porsche Club in France (Club Porsche Auvergne, the 2nd largest in the country).
The new Michelin Track Connect has been co-developed with genuine driving enthusiasts during an 18-month lab workshop. With the objective to improve efficiency of its mobility solutions, Michelin consulted enthusiastic consumers, members of sports car clubs, to understand their expectations for vehicle behaviour and enhancement of driving performance and pleasure.