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Smart tires: Software measures tread depth

May 08, 2014 // Christoph Hammerschmidt

Smart tires: Software measures tread depth

Automotive supplier Continental AG has developed a technique that detects if a tire has insufficient tread depth. The software deduces the actual tread depth from the gradual changes in the tire's rolling behaviour over time and enables drivers to recognize early enough if a tire is run down to below the tread depth required to maintain safety and issues a warning at the dashboard.

For this innovative principle of tread depth measurement, Continental utilises the gradual changes in rolling characteristics over an extended period caused by wear. Intensive tests conducted by tire and electronics developers provided a comprehensive data basis that will be fed into future tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) controllers. During the use, the sensor compares the rolling behaviour with the data stored for each specific tire type. Once the tread has decreased beyond a type-specific threshold value, the system suggests to change the respective tire. Optionally it would be possible that the telematics unit could inform the service station.

The new function will be connected with a TPMS. Continental said that it would enter volume production in 2017. Already as of November 2014, it will become mandatory throughout the European Union that new cars are equipped with a TPMS. Continental's approach for such system is directly measure the pressure by means of a sensor which will be either integrated into the valve or under the tire tread.

The introduction of the tread depth-aware tire is another step on the way towards a 'smart tire'. Another function whose market introduction can be expected soon is load detection. This software-based feature also analyses the rolling behaviour and detects after a short driving distance if the load limit has been exceeded. Continental expects that the vehicle weight, acquired through the analysis of the rolling behaviour, can be fed into future driver assistance systems as an additional parameter, contributing to further increase driving safety.

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