Pirelli uses Ferrari’s track-bred LaFerrari FXX K to test its Digital Tires of the future

Modern tire technology is more than just about rubber compounds and tread patterns, it’s becoming a bedrock element in vehicle performance.

Pirelli is at the forefront of this new era of performance rubber, and their “Cyber Tires” needed just the right test subject. Insert the Ferrari LaFerrari FXX K. The track-bred hypercar is a perfect candidate to test computer-clad tires on circuits.

Evo reports that the goal is for the digital tires to collect data about the coefficient of friction, footprint, and pavement grade as the Ferrari rips around the track. The next step is to communicate that information to the FXX K’s ECU and traction control systems, enabling the supercar to optimize power delivery based on the most grip.

Onboard computers have been channeling power to the wheel with best traction for a while now, but these real-time tire sensors are vastly more precise than any method used before.

Pirelli has a good foundation of research thanks to its development of tires for Formula One, but with the plan being to introduce digitally optimized tires for road cars in the next few years, having one of the most capable production cars on the planet to break in the technology is a huge win for Belle Italia.

The potential performance gains from data-optimized tires could be massive and it’s good news that Pirelli’s technology chief Maurizio Boiocchi says we can expect to see them on high-end supercars in the next five years.

While that means you’ll still have to go through quite a few sets of tires before this trend-setting tech trickles down to mass market sales, you can at least look forward to a new driving metric within the next decade.

Pondering the next element of driving that might benefit from data collection, what about braking points on a track? There are already transmissions that use GPS data to optimize shift points on a circuit, and the same concept could be applied to braking points. If there was a system that analyzed the best possible braking zone based on your vehicle and the track layout, drivers learning a circuit could turn over braking on the first few laps to the computer before taking over. But perhaps that’s too invasive … I’ve had a lot of coffee today.

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