These smart sensors will tell you when your car’s tire treads are wearing thin

sensors monitor tread tyrata tire getty
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Imagine owning sensors, made with carbon nanotube ink, which could accurately monitor the tread on your tires to let you know when they have become uneven or maybe even dangerously thin. That is exactly what a new company called Tyrata is trying to bring to market and it recently attracted $4.5 million in funding to help make its dream a reality.

“The core of the sensor is formed by placing two small, electrically conductive electrodes side by side, very close to each other on the inside of the tire, directly below the tread,” Jesko von Windheim, president and CEO at Tyrata, told Digital Trends. “While most of this electric field passes directly between the edges of the two adjacent electrodes, some of the field arcs from the face of one electrode to the face of the other, with the arc penetrating up into the tire tread. The tire rubber and tread structure interfere with this so-called ‘fringing field’ and by measuring this interference through the electrical response of one of the electrodes, it is possible to determine the thickness of the tire above the sensor.”

The innovative smart sensor was developed by researchers at Duke University, who published their findings in IEEE Sensors Journal in 2017. The sensor the team plans to market is substantially the same, although they have further developed the technology. That includes testing it under different environmental conditions and developing the packaging and electronics required to operate the sensor remotely from within the tire.

sensors monitor tread tyrata how it works

As von Windheim points out, having reduced tread on your tires isn’t just about improving one aspect of your driving experience — although safety is a pretty big aspect to focus on. Thinner tread makes you more likely to crash, hurts vehicle performance, and increases fuel consumption.

“Our goal is to improve safety, performance, efficiency, and profitability for anyone or any business that is dependent on tires,” he continued. “We see applications for consumers [in the form of] safety, fleet management companies [in] efficiency and profitability, racing teams [with] performance, and ultimately in new markets such as ridesharing and autonomous vehicles where tire monitoring will be an integral part of making those business models work effectively.”

Now we just need them to hurry up and get to market.

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