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Scientists working on adaptive tyres

By FaezClutchless on 03 May 2012

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Every tyre on the market today is a compromise. If you want something that sticks to the ground in warm and dry conditions, there are many tyres for you to choose but don’t drive too fast on wet, rainy days or during winter (I know, this doesn’t apply in our tropical climate).

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Alternatively, if you want to go off-road and tackle the sand and muddy conditions; yes, there are suitable tyres for that application. Just as long as you don’t carry too much speed into a corner on the tarmac and don’t expect a quiet highway ride.

Today’s tyres may offer a blend of ride quality and handling across a variety of conditions but they are still sub-optimal for winter conditions, spirited driving and off-road usage. An ideal tyre is something that could automatically adapt its configuration to optimise itself for any condition.

If that sounds like the stuff you find in science fiction movies or story books, then don’t tell that to German research scientist Detlef Riemer who heads a team of researchers in the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. Riemer and his team are working on adaptive tyres. These tyres adjust themselves for optimum grip and fuel efficiency regardless of terrain and weather.

Sensors are embedded into the tyres and these sensors recognise changes in terrain and also environmental conditions. Actuators in the tyre’s tread can then reconfigure the tread’s geometry to optimise grip for condition changes. Materials used should work in harmony to produce the desired results and they include flexible actuators, piezo-ceramic actuators, shape memory alloys and other “smart” materials.

Don’t expect to see these adaptive tyres on your ride soon as it is still in the conceptual stage and such technology would take years before it is ready for commercial use, assuming it meets safety and quality standards.

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FaezClutchless
Written by FaezClutchless
Some say that his blood is actually RON98 petrol and some say that his right foot weighs over 20kg. But all that we know about Faez is that he loves to drive and is a JDM enthusiast.



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