Here’s a different take on electrification. Sumitomo Rubber Industries has teamed up with Kansai University to develop a method of harvesting electricity from the rotation of a tyre.

The harvester gets its electricity from frictional charging, a form of static electricity which is generated when a tyre deforms as it rotates along a road surface. This is done with electrodes on rubber pieces for the tyre and power-generating device respectively, and electricity is generated through oscillations between the positive and negative-charged films.

The benefit, according to Sumitomo, is a power source for sensors such as tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and other automotive devices and digital tools without additional reliance on a car’s batteries or electrical architecture, and in the case of electrified powertrains, help increase battery driving range.

Brands under Sumitomo Rubber Industries include Dunlop and Falken. Sumitomo previously unveiled the Smart Tyre Concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, which was a suite of ideas that was slated to be unveiled in stages over the next few years.

These included Sensing Core, a software package that aims to use tyres as sensors for the monitoring of road and tyre conditions based on changes in the rotation speeds of each tyre; active tread, which aims to adapt the grip qualities of tyre rubber to work better in prevailing conditions such as water or ice; airless tyres, which do away with the need for tyre pressure management; and life cycle assessment for the tyres’ environmental-friendliness over the entire lifespan, from manufacture and shipping via usage, to recycling.