Embedded sensor adds connectivity to Michelin Formula E tires

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The new ABB FIA Formula E season is underway, featuring the most advanced tires to grace the all-electric series so far. For the 14-race 2019-20 championship, control tire supplier Michelin has embedded a sensor inside the third-generation Pilot Sport racing rubber.

Michelin Track Connect for Formula E is the first connected solution to be adopted by an FIA-sanctioned race series. It enables tire pressures to be monitored automatically and reliably, whatever the temperature.

“The sensor is placed in a container, which is glued inside the tire,” explained Jérôme Mondain, Michelin’s manager of Formula E activities. “Before the qualifying practice and before the start of the race, we walk in front of each car to collect the tire pressures with our reader, which is enclosed in a kind of suitcase. The data is encrypted and only Michelin can read it. Once the data is collected, we send the file to the FIA.”

Not only does this process ensure that the information remains confidential, but it also enables the FIA to check that minimum tire pressures are adhered to. As well as saving time, the system provides additional reassurance for the teams and helps streamline the running of race days.

“During the last Formula E season we discussed with the FIA how to find another way to check the tire pressures, instead of with a standard pressure gauge,” continued Mondain, speaking exclusively to Tire Technology International. “We had already developed a Michelin Track Connect system for track days but we realized that our requirements for Formula E were different. Therefore we decided to develop a different technology with our own sensors, software and hardware. That was six months ago.

“We had the opportunity to test with a limited number of sensors during the official tests in Valencia in October, but the real first time with all the cars and all the tires equipped with sensors was in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, for the first race. It was a great success and I wish to thank all the Michelin teams involved in this project as well as our technical partners who helped us to meet this challenge.”

Michelin uses Formula E as a laboratory to foster innovation that will help it to achieve its sustainable mobility-related objectives in the areas of safety, sustainable materials, expanded electric mobility and accelerated connected mobility. In the case of Track Connect, “We developed this technology because we see some opportunities for further developments, like [calculating]wear prediction and grip level, which is also very interesting for road purposes,” added Mondain.

ABB FIA Formula E’s sixth season runs from November 2019 to July 2020, with a schedule of 14 races at 12 venues. For the first time, Formula E grids now comprise 12 teams and 24 drivers.

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Based in Calgary, Alberta, Graham is a former editor of Automotive Testing Technology International and Tire Technology International. Now working freelance, his other outlets include Autocar, MSN, Professional Motorsport World, TractionLife.com and Canada Drives. He’s a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and is a juror for the ATTI Awards, the TTI Awards and Canadian Car of the Year.

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