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SRI develops AI powered “Tyre Aerodynamic Simulation" to minimise air resistance to maximise range for its Next-Generation EV tyres

Falken Tyre’s parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. has developed a new simulation technique called "Tyre Aerodynamic Simulation" for use in EV tyre development. To reduce energy consumption and increase the range of EVs, it is important to minimise both rolling resistance as well as air resistance around the tyre. Sumitomo will pursue the development of a tyre profile that optimises aerodynamic performance. By visualising the airflow around the tyre of a moving vehicle through its own AI powered simulation, Sumitomo will use the findings to develop a low energy consumption next-generation tyre to be launched in 2027.

In addition to measures already taken to reduce tyre rolling resistance, Sumitomo will increase its focus on reducing air resistance, which is important to lower the energy consumption of an EV tyre. With a rapid shift to EVs occurring today, the impact of air resistance is becoming increasingly important. Unlike internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, which lose over 50 percent of their energy due to heat, EVs suffer much less energy loss from heat. This means that air resistance accounts for a larger portion of the total energy loss. On a passenger car, the tyres are exposed to the air that passes around the tyres and flows out to the side and underside. As a result, 20 to 25 percent of the energy loss due to air resistance in a passenger car is related to the tyres. In EVs, which have almost no energy loss due to heat, around 34 to 37 percent of the energy loss is attributed to the tyres, when rolling resistance is included.

The newly-developed ‘Tyre Aerodynamic Simulation’ is a AI-powered tool that allows Sumitomo’e engineers to visualise air resistance around a tyre. It uses actual vehicle data to calculate the aerodynamics of a rotating tyre while simulating the tyre pattern and analysing results using AI. Tyre Aerodynamic Simulation also accounts for the effect of tyre deflection due to vehicle weight. Looking for every gain, it has developed a simulation that optimises the shape of the lettering and fine texture on the sidewall while they are rotating. While it is important to have a smooth sidewall to reduce air resistance on EVs, Tyre Aerodynamic will enable the development of a tyre that achieves both design and aerodynamic performance targets.

Having used the results of a wind tunnel experiment to confirm the accuracy of the simulation, the new EV tyre concept, with a decreased airflow behind the tyre and greater evenness on the sidewall resulted in lower air resistance values than a standard tyre. This confirmed the potential of the technology. Furthermore, the AI technology used in the simulation suggests that the sidewall plays a crucial role in air resistance reduction when the air resistance is higher, offering additional evidence of the effectiveness of the technology. Adopting this technique yields improved tyre performance with maximised aerodynamic characteristics, leading to reduced aerodynamic drag and energy consumption.

Sumitomo unveiled its own unique Circular Economy Concept for the tyre Industry, known as TOWANOWA, in March 2023. TOWANOWA features a two-ring structure, with a ‘Sustainable Ring’ comprising five processes in the value chain and a ‘Data Ring’ linking big data collected from each process. Sumitomo aims to create new value by sharing/using data between the two rings.

The newly developed Tyre Aerodynamic Simulation technique will use simulation data obtained through the ‘Planning & Design’ process to reduce air resistance when the vehicle is running and thereby help lower EV energy consumption. Through TOWANOWA, the Sumitomo Rubber Group will further accelerate its efforts to promote and practice ESG Management and contribute to the achievement of carbon neutrality by 2050 and the development of a sustainable society.

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