Intelligent tires edging closer to fruition

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Car tire

Intelligent tires are in development and might appear on cars in several years. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The next frontier in “smart” or “intelligent” or automatically adapting car technology is the most low-tech item on a car today: the tires. Intelligent tires are edging closer to being ready for sale every year.

Where the rubber out-thinks the road

Many components on cars have been improved over time with sensor technology and automation, allowing them to adapt and change to conditions. Anti-lock brakes have made brake-lock a thing of the past. Suspensions have been improved with traction, terrain and stability control. Fuel injection systems and motors themselves are being controlled via automation, to optimize power and fuel efficiency.

The next step is to apply those same technologies to the tires. Tires are some of the most low-tech items on cars, having barely changed in more than a century. Many are equipped with sensors that alert the driver to pressure and road conditions, but one can hardly change the treads to better deal with rain or snow.

On the agenda

The need for more sensor technologies in tires to transmit more information to the driver but also to adaptive suspension and brake systems has been around for some time. The need for such tire sensor technology was addressed in a paper in a 2008 issue of “Proceedings of the SPIE,” according to a catalog entry on a Harvard University website.

In 2010, according to AutoBlog, Schrader Electronics, a leading developer of tire pressure monitoring systems, announced it had developed a smart tire sensor system called Cyber Tire, which it planned to bring to market by 2013. The Cyber Tire system tied into the electronic control module system and would communicate with vehicle control systems.

[It’s fairly easy to find where to buy a car online]

Goodyear, according to a press release on its website, announced it was taking its own smart tire system to the Geneva Motor Show, after successfully testing the technology in the British Touring Car racing series.

Where others do not tread

Currently, according to CBS, researchers at the University of Leipzig are working on an intelligent tire design that will not only communicate with traction and stability control systems but alter the tread while the vehicle is driving. They are fairly mum on how it works, but according to the New York Daily News, the team has already patented the technology.

The idea is that the tire’s sensors keep track of surfaces and road conditions and will widen or raise to adapt to rain, gravel or even snow, meaning one may never need snow tires again. The tire is set to debut at the Hanover Fair. The researchers who developed the tire say it is still a few years from production.



NY Daily News




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