Fri June 2 01:16 pm 2023 in category Company news

LEVITOI project creates research data that will enable more soil-friendly tires

Coordinated by the Oulu University of Applied Sciences and funded by Business Finland, the LEVITOI project brings together several companies in search of solutions for safer and less soil-compacting machine work on soft surfaces. Nokian Heavy Tyres is the leading company in the project, and the research has already produced promising results for enabling e.g. tires that monitor the driving surface properties.  

The increased soil moisture brought by the climate change can bring challenges to tractors working on fields in springtime, forwarders collecting timber from soft forest floors as well as timber trucks carrying cargo on remote forest roads during ground frost breaking period. A dangerously soft driving surface may not just cause the vehicle to get stuck but cause soil compression. Farmland that has lost its airiness produces less yield and damaged forest floor can cause damage to the root system of the trees, resulting in significant economical losses.  

”Measuring the weight of the load from the tire, monitoring the driving surface properties and metering the friction with in-tire sensors is a part of the LEVITOI project,” says Mika Haapalainen, Development Manager at Nokian Tyres. “This technology is already in use on hard surfaces, but utilizing it on soft forest floors, fields or gravel roads calls for pioneering research. Within the project we have, for example, gone to forest roads during the ground frost breaking period to make measurements, and the experiments on the fields are in full swing.” 

Data for future smart tires 

While the LEVITOI project is not about product development, the groundwork that has been done may enable for example future tires that warn the driver if the surface is too soft.  

”Tire ADAS or Tire Advanced Driver Assistant System utilizes the data produced by the next generation smart tires, among other things, to assist the driver,” says Haapalainen. “For example, if a road during the frost breaking period is so soft that that a laden truck might not be able to drive back the same road, the system would warn the driver. With agricultural tires, the pressure could be adjusted automatically according to soil properties.” 

According to Mika Haapalainen, there are promising beginnings for product development projects, so the future might well bring more soil-friendly machine contracting.  

”Until now, the tire has been a sort of a black hole when it comes to data, but the advanced smart tires bring new data for controlling the machine”, Haapalainen describes. “In the future, the handling of large fields will be more efficient and crops will be bigger, as the machine speed, tire pressure and other factors can be optimized according to soil properties.” 

Watch Mika Haapalainen describing the LEVITOI project:

Developing environmentally sustainable utility vehicles at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences