The company is tackling tyre noise with driverless vehicles.

Autonomous cars are being put through their paces off the road and on public streets – even at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now, the tyre development team at Bridgestone is looking to use the technology for road-noise testing in Japan from next year, in search of more precise and efficient tests.

The company is working with ZMP, an autonomous development firm, on a Level 4 self-driving car to get involved in testing from next year. ZMP is currently working on a driverless taxi for Tokyo, set for a 2020 Olympic Games rollout, and bases its test vehicles on a Toyota Tarago.

With no driver on board, the tests are focused on external noise caused by tyres. Europe and Japan have both moved to regulate the amount of noise pollution tyres are allowed to create, making it imperative for manufacturers to develop quieter compounds still capable of delivering the grip and efficiency expected of modern rubber.

The goal of letting a Level 4 autonomous car tackle the testing is to add an extra degree of precision to the process, not to mention the efficiency gains on offer from minimising the number of people involved. Maybe test drivers aren't as excited about the development, then.

Along with noise testing, Bridgestone is planning to use the process as a way to better understand what's required of tyres on self-driving cars.