Tires are often described as large, circular hunks of black rubber rolling down the lane. We don’t give them much thought before something goes wrong and you’re stuck waiting for help or taking out the spare. If tires could talk, they would demand more respect. You have the option of not allowing them to become under-inflated and worn out. They may also warn you of a nail in the tread that will cause the tire pressure indicator light to illuminate in a few days. They can also assist you in driving more safely, stopping more easily, and raising your gas mileage.

Smart-tire technology is already in use by tire manufacturers, with special sensors in each tire. According to TJ Campbell, tire knowledge and testing manager at online retailer Tire Rack, these inventions will gradually become commonplace because the benefits that smart tires can offer are so important. “If for no other reason than that this is the basis for completely autonomous driving,” he said, “I totally foresee that happening.” He argues that self-driving cars can face enough random variables without having to deal with unpredictable tire issues. It’s best to be aware of a potential problem, such as an air leak or worn treads, as early as possible.

When the road surface is slippery or the vehicle is about to skid, a self-driving car would lack the feeling of a professional human driver. In terms of forecasting possible traction loss, computerized tire technology would be more accurate and reliable than most cars’ existing stability and traction control systems.