Yokohama Rubber takes tyre development simulation technologies a step further

The boffins at Yokohama Rubber have developed a new tyre design technology. This new technology is said to apply informatics to the development of rubber materials used in tyres and to tyre shape design, and its key feature is the use of machine learning, or AI, to conduct information and knowledge searches. The use of AI is expected to significantly speed up the development of new high-performance tyres and also add greater precision to this development.

This new technology isn’t Yokohama Rubber’s first application of applied simulation technologies in tyre shape design or the development of rubber materials. In 2005, it developed a highly precise multi-scale simulation technology and a multi-performance map that displays numerous optimum designs in a map-like configuration. Ten years later, the company developed a simulation technology for multi-objective design exploration of rubber materials. This enabled it to create models of a huge number of virtual rubber material morphologies.

The new technology is a more advanced version of these previous technologies. This latest version uses AI to conduct information and knowledge searches previously performed by technicians. In addition to shortening the time required to run such searches, the use of AI leads to a more objective and quantitative analysis of the factors that will contribute to the design of a tyre. Yokohama Rubber speaks of tyre design “with a balanced array of performance attributes suitable for various product categories.”

Giving an example of this, Yokohama Rubber shares that when developing a tyre that delivers superior performance in two areas normally thought to work against each other, such as fuel efficiency and abrasion resistance, it uses the new technology during the rubber material design stage (materials informatics) to determine the optimal range of values for the size of the compound filler and the thickness of the bound rubber layer formed on the filler surface. Similarly, the technology contributes to the design of tyre shape by generating the optimal size for the radius of the curvature of the tyre’s cross-section.

In addition, Yokohama Rubber shares that the new technology also makes possible the acquisition of data from a “vast design space that far exceeds the scope of previous studies.” This will enable the company’s researchers to obtain new design factors that are expected to lead to new breakthroughs. They also will be able to analyse the mechanisms important to each design factor, which will help them come up with new development approaches based on those mechanisms.

Data science, AI, and other informatics techniques play an increasingly important role in the development of products and technologies at Yokohama Rubber. The company states its intention to “make extensive use of these advanced technologies to develop products that meet user needs and to promote the development of innovative products that deliver new value.”

Informatics-based design for materials and tyres

The use of informatics (the combination of data science and simulation technology) enables the speedy design of new materials and tyres by facilitating the discovery of information and knowledge within certain parameter, conditional and multi-scale spaces.

  • Parameter space: The space determined by the parameters for special characteristics of tyre shape and structure and the parameters for rubber materials.
  • Conditional space: The space determined by physical and chemical phenomena, limitations and load conditions, and values for targeted characteristics.
  • Multi-scale space: The space determined by various scales.
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