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New Smart Tire Senses Damage, Increases Safety

December 20, 2007

Purdue team's system allows a tire to sense failures in real time, enabling detection of tire condition degradation and external damage, in addition to low or unbalanced tire pressure.


WEST LAFAYETTE, IN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new type of "smart" tire developed by a Purdue University professor is able to sense damage when a tire goes flat or loses treads, making it safer for road travel.

The tire's technology also can be used to detect impending defects before a tire is mass produced.

A team led by Gary W. Krutz, director of Purdue's Electrohydraulic Center and a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, has developed a tire system that senses failures in real time. The concept behind the technology is that the entire tire acts as a sensor that sends information to onboard computers.

The patented technology is available through the Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization.

Tires are consistently subjected to harsh and unpredictable conditions. Because of this, they become particularly susceptible to external damage.

"Some tire damage is not easily detected or prevented, even with proper maintenance and inspection," Krutz said. "Occasionally failures occur because of gap damage within the tread, and this type of damage is a particular hazard on all steel-belted tires.

"Tire damage on the road creates situations that are inconvenient and, more importantly, hazardous for drivers."

Krutz's research led to the development of a sensing system that can respond to significant changes in a rubber research tire. The prototype system was designed by determining critical aspects of tire design and performance.

Sensors that can alert operators when a tire condition has degraded can save time and effort in repairing or changing the tire. The sensors also can notify drivers of low air pressure or unbalanced air pressure between tires, which can prolong the operable life of a tire.

"However, there are external injuries that can occur in tires that are not always propagated or affected by improper inflation, such as a road hazard like a rock or loose concrete, that can do damage to a tire without actually causing it to go flat," Krutz said. "This sensor technology searches for these types of problems as well."

The sensor technology developed by Krutz works for all rubber tires, such as those on passenger cars, trucks, construction equipment, lawn and garden equipment, mining vehicles, and airplanes.


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