Yokohama to develop sensor for monitoring tyre wear

Yokohama to develop sensor for monitoring tyre wear

Like tyre pressure monitoring systems, but for tyre tread wear instead

Despite pre-dating the invention of the automobile, tyre maintenance can still be a bit of a black art for many drivers. Beyond not understanding what the markings on a tyre mean, some people aren’t even aware of the need to keep their tyres properly inflated, though thankfully there are tyre pressure monitoring systems to warn of that.

When it comes to tyres wearing out however, that’s a different matter. Keeping tabs of tyre wear is important because having enough tyre tread is one of the main factors in staying safe when driving in wet weather. Yet short of A) checking their tyres regularly, or B) coming to rest in a ditch after aquaplaning off the road, there currently isn’t a way for drivers to know if their tyres are worn out and need replacing.

That could soon change, however. Yokahama Rubber Company has announced that it’s working on new technology that helps drivers monitor tyre wear. This is done by way of sensors placed on the tyre’s inner surface that “captures sensing waveforms of a rotating tire’s changing shape” and analyses the data to determine how fresh or worn a tyre is. 

In its statement, Yokohama did not mention exactly what type of waveforms these are, though to our simple, unscientific minds, we’d guess it might be ultrasound that measures the thickness of tyre tread between sensor and road surface.

With this technology, Yokohama says car owners or vehicle fleet managers can be notified of “the need to rotate or replace worn tires, enabling more optimal tire maintenance that will promote safety while extending tyres’ useful lifespan while reducing their economic and environmental impact.”

This will be especially useful as more and more drivers adopt electric vehicles (EVs); as many car owners currently find out about the state of their tyres only when they bring their cars in for servicing or repairs, the risk of people unknowingly driving around with worn out tyres will increase, thanks to EVs’ far more infrequent servicing intervals. Further in the future when autonomous vehicles become more commonplace, this problem will only be exacerbated.

This is part of Yokohama’s medium to long-term SensorTire Technology Vision, which seeks to reduce traffic congestion, make roads safer, and improve convenience by Internet of Things (IoT) tyres fitted with such sensors communicating to the cloud, enabling a more seamless and timely response to motorists’ tyre-related matters.

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