By Lindsay Chappell, Automotive News Europe / May 02, 2005
DETROIT -- A European industry consortium has successfully completed tests of tires embedded with traction sensors.
The study could pave the way for automakers to rely on real-time readings of road and pavement conditions to guide a vehicle's safety features.
A consortium including DaimlerChrysler, Magneti Marelli and tire maker Pirelli is researching the new technology.
A vehicle equipped with sensor-embedded tires is undergoing winter road tests in Finland, said one of the project's participants, Piero De La Pierre, strategic innovation manager for Magneti Marelli Electronic Systems.
De La Pierre presented a paper on the research during the SAE World Congress in Detroit held April 11-14.
Vehicles already use chassis and body sensors to detect when they are losing traction or are in danger of rolling over.
The project may have solved two critical problems that have prevented the industry from pursuing intelligent tires.
It developed a way to transmit steady power to isolated tire sensors that cannot be connected to the vehicle's existing power supply. And it found a way to obtain data from the sensors quickly enough to be a useful part of a safety system.
"Our desire was to see whether this was physically possible and it was," said De La Pierre. "The idea was that it could be useful to get information related to exerted forces on the vehicle directly at the point at which the force is generated."
The idea of intelligent tires has been around since the mid-1990s, when German tire maker Continental proposed the idea of taking readings from tire sensors.
Also taking part in the current project are the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, the University of Helsinki in Finland and the University of Aachen in Germany.