Automotive

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

Goodyear's self-inflating tire...
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)
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)
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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)
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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.

12 comments
David Stephenson
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.
Bill Bennett
umm David? where have you been? TPM systems have been around first in 1986,, common use about ten years ago.
Datagen
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.
Slowburn
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
With more equipment you could also remotely vary tire presser for changing conditions.
Muraculous
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.
froginapot
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.
Griffin
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....
Nick Herbert
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?
patrick.taylor1
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. : )