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Goodyear's self-inflating tire system could make air pumps obsolete

By

August 12, 2011

Goodyear is developing a system that would automatically keep tires inflated to the proper...

Goodyear is developing a system that would automatically keep tires inflated to the proper pressure, making gas station air pumps unnecessary (Photo: Doyle N. Roberts)

It's important to keep your tires sufficiently inflated, both for the sake of the tires themselves, and in order to maximize the performance and fuel economy of your vehicle. The problem is that for many of us, we only think to check our tire pressure when heading out on a long road trip - if even then. With Goodyear's Air Maintenance Technology (AMT), however, that shouldn't matter. The system, which is currently in development, would automatically keep tires topped up to the proper pressure.

All of the electronic and mechanical components would be contained within the tires themselves, running off of power generated by the tires' rolling motion. AMT would monitor each tire's air pressure, and use a miniature pump to draw in air as needed. Goodyear hasn't stated whether the system could also expel air, to keep hot tires from becoming overinflated.

There's also no word on when AMT might be commercially available, although the company said that research has been accelerated due to two grants - this week, the United States Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technology awarded Goodyear US$1.5 million to develop AMT for commercial truck tires, while the government of Luxembourg provided a grant for development of consumer tires, last month.

While there have been self-inflating tire systems before, most of these have not been fully contained within the tire, let alone powered by it. One exception is CODA DEVELOPMENT's SIT system, that uses a built-in peristaltic pump to continuously keep tires from getting soft.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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12 Comments

Toss in a warning light on the dash when there is a slow leak or puncture that needs attention would be great. Nothing worse than coming out the next day to find a flat tyre and all dressed up for work.

David Stephenson
12th August, 2011 @ 04:14 pm PDT

umm David? where have you been? TPM systems have been around first in 1986,, common use about ten years ago.

Bill Bennett
12th August, 2011 @ 10:08 pm PDT

Better than just a warning light, how about an email notice that will goy to your computer or phone that your parked car may have a flat. That way rather then putting on your suit for work, you can put on your scrubs for the tire change. Better, call AAA.

Datagen
13th August, 2011 @ 07:07 am PDT

If you were to build, and attach a hubcap with a CO2 cartridge, pressure regulator, and hose your tire would stay inflated. If you were good with electronics you could make it signal an alarm if the flow rate exceeds what would be expected from gas migrating through the rubber.

Slowburn
13th August, 2011 @ 07:51 pm PDT

With more equipment you could also remotely vary tire presser for changing conditions.

Slowburn
13th August, 2011 @ 07:59 pm PDT

Yes, and on electric vehicles in particular, escaping air could make a "whoopie cushion" sound to alert pedestrians of their approach; two benefits in one.

Muraculous
15th August, 2011 @ 09:08 am PDT

This has already developed. There is a man in Austin Texas who told me his father had created it and he was trying to get it out.

It's about time.

froginapot
15th August, 2011 @ 02:40 pm PDT

Yes,

and as long as we're at it,

let's just go anti-grav and get rid of tires altogether!

{^,^}

Seriously,

why has Brazil had automatic tire inflation systems for such a long time(Roto-aire)on commercial vehicles and Goodyear is JUST now getting around to figuring this out?

All commercial vehicles with air brakes have no shortage of compressed air....

Griffin
15th August, 2011 @ 03:45 pm PDT

Correct me if I'm wrong (and someone undoubtedly will), but didn't the WW2 DUKW amphibious vehicle have a variable tyre pressure capability - to all six wheels - from a controller and pressure gauge in the cab?

So when will Goodyear actually have this system in production - for motorcycle tyres?

Nick Herbert
15th August, 2011 @ 08:15 pm PDT

The Goodyear project is in very early days and to be honest is great on publicity but there are problems to be addressed on practicability let alone the cost aspects.

http://www.goodyear.com/cfmx/web/corporate/media/news/story.cfm?a_id=559

However lets separate the issue of tread depth from TPMS. For trucks it is important to monitor wear which IS of primary importance for tyre maintenance/legal requirements/ and management. You also have the problem as to the accuracy of the internal pump which one might like to check after a year or so at least.

Now the actuality of inserting the electronics. We know that getting even the tiny RFID tag in has been a problem in embedding let alone anything bigger. I am not saying it is not possible to create tyres with all the gubbins but at what cost? And can it be done on a production line? AFAIR Pirelli was introducing tyres with piezo this year .... and I think they promised this a couple of years ago.

Also, when I load 4 people and their luggage in a car I am required to add 5psi to the rear tyres. How do you tell the pump what the correct pressure is? Or do I run on an intermediate pressure between the optimal for loaded and unloaded? How do they account for temperature variation?

The tyre industry has many projects and very very few actually make it - radial tyres being the huge exception. Changes in tyre tread and formula for the rubber do work but other than that think TWEEL, think of Michelins run-flat design, think of the claims for run-flat market penetration and the reality of how harsh they are and how few are actually fitted. And of their cost and weight. : )

patrick.taylor1
16th August, 2011 @ 03:32 am PDT

Much smarter approach would be to address and correct the areas where tires lose air in the first place. If once inflated the tire did not lose air the need for this device no longer exists.

Dumb approach to fix the symptom (low air pressure) and not the root causes. It also results in a device that will be overworked and destroy itself if the leak as with a bad valve stem becomes severe and the pump is running continuously as a result. Then the vehicle owner gets to replace a $10 valve stem and a $75 pump. Great for the dealerships service revenues but not a good deal for the consumer.

Calson
5th December, 2011 @ 10:49 am PST

Just make tires grip better, perform better, ride better, and last a reasonable length of time. Keep the price down and I will take care of maintaining pressure in my tires. TPMS has proven on 2 of 2 of my cars that they will add cost in maintenance. My BMW & Mini both have TPMS and both have cost me. My 2006 Porsche does not have TPMS and for me that's a bonus. In this case it is a technology I'd rather do without.

Dr. Veritas
13th April, 2012 @ 12:52 pm PDT
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