Goodyear Truck TireGoodyear Tire & Rubber is joining forces with Plus in a strategic collaboration to provide optimized, autonomous trucking solutions to move trucking to the next level of logistics evolution.

Through this collaboration, Goodyear’s suite of services, including connected tires, will further enhance transportation efficiency and safety for semi-trucks powered by Plus’s Level 4 autonomous driving technology while also reducing carbon impact.

Goodyear and Plus will explore how Plus’s autonomous driving system can incorporate feedback from Goodyear’s connected tires into Plus’s online, machine learning-based fuel economy efficiency, to further improve fuel economy.

Integrating Goodyear’s intelligent tires with Plus’s autonomous driving system can also improve a vehicle’s overall performance in severe weather and extreme road conditions.

Plus is already deploying its driver-in autonomous driving solution, PlusDrive, to customers and is expected to start production of the FAW J7 L3 truck (First Automobile Works) powered by Plus Drive in the third quarter of 2021.

“Tires are the only thing on a vehicle that touches the ground and it’s this critical position that can help us enable future mobility solutions like autonomous transportation,” said Chris Helsel, SVP Global Operations & CTO of Goodyear. “With our leadership in products and innovation, Goodyear is supporting efficient fleet operations and is pleased to drive more possibilities for the logistics industry with Plus.”

Shawn Kerrigan, COO and Co-founder of Plus, said, “We are constantly exploring new opportunities to generate more value for customers using our autonomous driving technology. The collaboration between Plus and Goodyear enables us to leverage both companies’ innovative fuel efficiency technologies, and harness these to further improve the performance of autonomous trucks.”

With much of the attention in the industry going to autonomous and electric vehicles, many have overlooked the advancements in vehicle tires.

According to a new study from Smithers, “The Future of Fleet Tires to 2026,” the prospects for tire breakthroughs over the next five years are strong. For example, intelligent tires with sensors to communicate tire pressure or replacement needs, or non-pneumatics, such as Michelin’s Uptis EV tire being developed with GM, are among innovations that are shaping the future of the tire industry. While it’s not clear how quickly such innovations will scale up, they will be enormously significant in addressing the needs of fleets in general, and specifically those of connected, electric, autonomous, and shared vehicles, according to the report.

Despite setbacks due to COVID-19 and its major disruptions in economic activity and transportation, the trend toward growing fleet tire consumption is bolstered by the pursuit of greater efficiencies in commercial transport and the emergence of car- and ride-sharing fleets in personal transportation

Goodyear, Michelin, Bridgestone, and Continental are all prominent global leaders in the fleet tire market, offering tires, technologies, and programs to support fleet customers. The value chain and product flow are straightforward but involves additional players such as fleet management companies (outsourcing partners of some fleets, especially of corporate cars), sensor companies and external technology vendors with tools that help to automate tire inspection for high-volume fleet traffic. The most significant development is the aggressive expansion of OEMs into the fleet space, namely GM and its BrightDrop EV delivery vehicle ecosystem introduced this year. This model can transform how fleets operate and are managed, with implications for tire development, management, and replacement. Beyond GM, many OEMs are becoming increasingly active in enhanced and broader EV offerings for fleets.

Most major automotive companies see autonomous driving as a great opportunity and have been investing major resources. However, due to the COVID-19 recession, AV progress is even more suppressed than electrification. For electric vehicles, the rationale is energy efficiency and vehicle emissions; with AVs, the rationale is safety. Autonomous driving represents a game-changing opportunity as well as the greatest challenge in automotive development.

In addition to safety, the long-term transition to autonomous vehicles will be driven by the need to reduce urban congestion and optimize vehicle utilization through ridesharing. These changes will transform passenger mobility and much of commercial transport, particularly in urban areas. With the adoption of autonomous vehicles for passenger transportation, the tire market will shift dramatically to companies and fleets.

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