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July 21, 2023

“Vulcanized” is a Planet Earth Term

Been There, Done That

The bad news is that it’s hot out there. We’ve just experienced the hottest 4th of July ever, with previous records for high temperatures melting away. The country looks and feels like it’s broiling.

The good news is that your vehicle’s tires probably won’t melt.

That’s not a huge consolation, though we’ll take the good news where we can get it.

As Firestone’s great blog entry tells us:

Tires are vulcanized, which means they have gone through a chemical process of combining rubber molecules with sulfur to make the rubber stronger and more durable. As a result, it’s impossible to melt tires back into their original compounds, just as it’s impossible to unbake bread.”

So, while tires probably won’t melt, they can blow out if we don’t check them and maintain their pressure. We’ve all seen roads and highways littered with the remains of such blowouts. That’s especially dangerous for an 18-wheeler, and for surrounding vehicles, at speed on any given stretch of roadway.

Other factors that can compromise tire integrity include potholes, uneven pavement, wild swings in temperature, and rolling over things like nails and wood and other people’s tossed trash.

When a tire blows out, the vehicle can swerve suddenly, erratically, and dramatically. Turning the wheel to keep it in lane and moved to the side of the road can seem counterintuitive (steer into the swerve?), and we often have fractions of seconds to decide on the best path forward.

Kodiak Robotics is developing its kodiakDriver, an autonomous safety technology for long-haul trucks intended to minimize danger and maximize road safety. Part of that effort is what the company calls “controlled stop in lane after steer tire blowout.” (See their demo video, below.)

We’ve long been skeptical about new technology just for the sake of new technology, this approach (and others like it) seems smart, calculated, and possibly contributing to better safety on our roads.

Until NATCO Transport becomes NATCO Teleport (possible slogan: “We get your freight delivered just by thinking about it”), we’re very much in favor of every development that helps get your freight moved safely.