Researchers developing new method for sensor integration in tires

Researchers at Virginia Tech, Penn State University and 12 industry partners are collaborating on a $1.2 million National Science Foundation-funded project to integrate sensors into car tires.

The ceramic sensors will gather information about road conditions and the health of the tire, and transmit that information wirelessly to the car’s control systems, researchers said. The team will develop new manufacturing techniques for direct sensor integration into the tires.

Saied Taheri, associate professor of mechanical engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and the director of the Center for Tire Research (CenTiRe), is the lead investigator for the project.

For several years, Taheri has been gathering data from tires using an attached sensor. The new project will expand on that research by incorporating multiple piezoelectric sensors into each tire through direct deposition techniques. With many more data points available per revolution, researchers can extract greater information, Virginia Tech said.

Taheri added: “That gives us a much broader way of looking at those interactions between the tire and the road. All of these parameters that we’ve been assessing with one sensor, we will be able to assess much more accurately.”

Piezoelectric sensors convert physical inputs, like changes in pressure, temperature and acceleration, to electrical signals. In a tire, those signals could convey information about the friction between the tire and the road, the car’s acceleration, and the tire’s air pressure and structural integrity.

If this data could be transmitted wirelessly to the car’s computer, Taheri says the car’s existing control systems could automatically adapt to maximize safety.

The tire project is designed with an eye towards the developing phenomenon of intelligent transportation.

(Virginia Tech News [www.vtnews.vt.edu] – Blacksburg, VA)

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