Reseachers Developing Intelligent, Adaptable Tire
German scientists are working on a tire that adapts to any road and weather.
Only four small patches of tire rubber keep your multi-ton vehicle -- and you and the passengers inside -- stuck to the road.
Most modern tires are a compromise, either working ideally for one road surface and/or weather condition, or usable throughout all seasons while not being particularly suited for any. Tires that are tacky for quick cornering in warm, dry conditions won’t provide good adhesion in snow and slush. Special traction tires for plowing through mud and sand will be sloppy on pavement and buzz loudly on the highway. And despite the name, the latest “all-season” radial tires still balance ride quality and handling across a wide array of road surfaces and environmental elements.
A perfect tire would automatically adjust itself to perform optimally in any condition -- and a team of researchers at the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, is working to perfect that very thing. German researcher Detlef Riemer, who heads the research, told Phys.org that his team is developing an “adaptive tire” that self-adjusts to provide the best possible grip and fuel efficiency on any road and in any weather.
Sensors embedded in the tire recognize a change in the road surface and environmental conditions, while actuators in the tire’s tread realign the tread geometry to fine tune grip based on these elements. The researchers also are testing cutting-edge “smart materials” such as piezo-ceramic actuators and shape-memory alloys that work in harmony to produce a tire that’s ideal for anything thrown at it.
But you won’t find them at the tire store down the street any time soon. The researchers say that adaptive tires are still just a concept and won’t be commercially available for years. And they will of course have to meet a wide variety of safety and durability standards before they're available for purchase.
Until then, don’t forget about the small amount of rubber meeting road in your car, and drive accordingly.
[Source: Motor Authority]
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