Falken’s Tire Sensors Measure Real-Time Micro-Plastic Shed

Car tires are joining the IoT with one manufacturer installing sensors to measure the real-time wear rate of its products.

In a joint project between Falken’s parent company Sumitomo Rubber Industries and Professor Hiroshi Tani of Kansai University in Japan, a sensor to measure tire wear has been developed which could help engineers to create longer lasting tires. It may also go some way to aiding the monitoring of micro-plastic pollution from modern tires, an issue becoming of increasing concern for environmentalists worried about the levels of pollution in our oceans and now with in the food chain.

This ‘Miniature Energy Harvester’ claims to be a sustainable technique. It uses the rotation of a tire to generate electricity and supply power to peripheral sensors installed without relying on batteries. It enables the calculation of a tire’s contact patch and wheel rotations and then harvests stress levels based on amplitude changes induced by rotation. The data obtained can then be extrapolated to determine tire wear.

At the same time, the research team has developed a technique to measure the tire contact patch by installing several miniature energy harvesters in each tire and reading into the data they gather. These new technologies open the door to different applications and provide information that can be incorporated into future tire developments.

Dr Bernd Löwenhaupt, managing director at Sumitomo Rubber Europe GmbH, said: “This new Energy Harvester technology is a big step towards the implementation of our sustainability policy, it supports us in developing tires with an optimized contact patch and thus longer life. As part of the ‘Driving Our Future Challenge 2050’ climate change pledge, we are developing innovative solutions for increased safety and less environmental impact in order to actively shape the transformation of mobility.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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