Continental's In-Tire Sensors Read Tread Depth
Photo courtesy of Contintental.
Continental North America has developed an in-tire sensor system that detects changes in pressure for 2017 model-year vehicles equipped with direct tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) from the supplier.
Intelligent software makes the new feature possible. The software determines tread depth from gradual changes in tire rolling characteristics. The in-tire pressure sensor infers running characteristics from the variations in tire deformation, according to Continental.
For this new type of electronic tread depth detection, Continental engineers draw on a tire's gradually changing rolling characteristics over a longer period of time.
Tire and electronics developers conducted an intensive series of tests that allowed the basic data to be fed into the electronics of future vehicles. The specifics of the tires' altered rolling characteristics are compared with the accumulated data. If the tread is run down to below a tire-specific threshold value, the on-board electrical system will signal that a tire change is due.
The vehicle's telematics module is also capable of informing the driver's local dealership or auto service center of the needed tire change. Even with this added feature, a driver is still able to check for themselves when the recommended or legally required minimum tread depth has been reached.
For this purpose, the tire has wet-TWI (tread wear indicators). These are small ridges between the tread grooves that indicate that the brand manufacturers' recommended minimum tread depth (3 millimeters in summer tires, 4 mm for winter tires) has been reached.