Gatik and Goodyear advance autonomy where the rubber meets the road

The sensors that detect problems and provide information to self-driving vehicles typically include radar, lidar and cameras. Now tires can be included in that mix.

Self-driving truck company Gatik and tiremaker Goodyear said Wednesday they have worked together to develop tire technology that estimates road friction and sends real-time information to Gatik’s automated driving system.

For the past three months, those tires have been deployed in real-world operations. Gatik has utilized the Goodyear technology in its autonomous-driving operations in Canada, which involve goods-hailing for grocery giant Loblaw.

The two companies revealed the developments at CES.

The companies have previously discussed their collaboration on the tire technology, but now they are explaining how it will be deployed.

Called Goodyear SightLine, the technology measures wear, load, tire pressure and temperature. It combines that information with real-time weather data and custom rubber friction insights to determine tire-road friction and detect low grip conditions.

“The tire is the only part of the vehicle that touches the ground, and this new level of data sophistication can communicate vital information to the vehicle,” said Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s chief technology officer.

That can be particularly useful in the wintry weather conditions Gatik might encounter with regularity in Canada.

Goodyear Ventures, the venture capital arm of the tiremaker, backed Gatik with an investment in its Series B round in 2021.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp. is in advanced talks to invest in Gatik as part of its cloud partnership with the company, two people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

Microsoft plans to invest more than $10 million in a financing round that values Gatik at more than $700 million, the sources added. As part of the deal, Gatik will use Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform Azure in developing autonomous delivery technology for trucks.

The terms of the deal could change, added the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss private matters.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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