Friday, July 11, 2014

Innovation: Advanced tire sensors

Image courtesy of Continental
Regardless if you are in a car, a motorcycle, or a bike, the only thing that keeps you connected to the road are the tires. Those little contact patches of rubber can make or break everything from the ride, handling, acceleration, and braking. On whole, most Americans probably spend very little time thinking about the tires that their vehicles are riding on. Most car owners buy a car with the factory tires and drive them until their mechanic tells them that they need to be replaced, at which time the owner pays to have them swapped out. Of course, monitoring tires can sometimes be as easy as looking at the tread wear indicators on the tire, but only if you know what to look for. And that TPMS system in your car will only warn you if your tire pressures are getting low. However, what if the tires pressure sensors, those federally mandated electronic monitors attached to the tire valve stems, could do more that just tell you if your tire was going flat?

Image courtesy of Continental
New advanced tire sensors are being developed that are sensitive enough to be able to determine the minute changes that take place in the tires rotation characteristics to be able to detect tread wear over time and its effect on the rolling diameter of the tire. The obvious application here is to be able to more easily tell owners when their tires are approaching a condition that it would be unsafe to drive in inclement weather. However, with just a little bit of coding in the background, it would also be able to discern things such as uneven wear that could signal problems with the suspension or even help owners with proper tire rotation schedules. Best of all, with in-car telematics getting better every day, all of this information could be available to you via an app on the smartphone you already own.

Currently, Continental is the only tire maker focused on developing these more advanced sensors, but over time, it would not be surprising to see this technology start to proliferate to other manufacturers as well.

Read more about this technology on Continental's site.

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