Will We Have "Talking Tires" By 2013?

Image credit: Autoblog Green

We already know that maintaining proper tire pressure means better gas mileage, and while some may have scoffed, I much preferred Obama's enthusiasm for tire gauges than his ridiculously ill-timed expansion of offshore drilling. So a Northern Irish electronics manufacturer's claim that its "talking tires" will be available by 2013 is good news indeed. But what the heck is a "talking tire"?Of course tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) have been available for some time now. Usually mounted on either the valve or the rim, these systems send data to the car's electronic system to monitor that correct tire pressure is maintained. In fact, TPMS are set to become mandatory in all new vehicles in the EU by 2012.

But according to an article in the Guardian, Schrader Electronics "talking tire" monitoring systems will take TPMS a step or two beyond simply monitoring tire pressure to actually provide feedback on the state of the tread on the tire, and even providing real-time information on road conditions and the amount of grip available. The result, says the company, should be significantly improved fuel efficiency:

"Schrader Electronics said the new system features a tyre pressure monitoring sensor (TPMS) that will be mounted inside the tyre, rather than on the valve or wheel rim as with current direct TPMS systems. The sensor will then transmit information wirelessly to the driver via receivers in the wheel housing and the car's engine control unit.

The company said that the technology could help motorists significantly reduce their carbon tyreprint as vehicles with properly inflated tyres boast an improved fuel efficiency. In addition, underinflated tyres wear out quicker and need replacing more frequently."

The cynics might say that it doesn't bode well that, at the time of writing, the Schrader Electronics website appears to be down. But I'm going to assume that this is a temporary glitch caused by traffic from the Guardian article. Either way, this looks like another step toward intelligent vehicles that learn from their surroundings. And that can only be a good thing.

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