Smart new software algorithms bring crucial new capabilities to existing vehicle sensors.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

March 31, 2022

2 Min Read
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Image courtesy of Sensata Technologies

“Work smarter, not harder.” That admonition has been used to the point of exhausted cliché, but it perfectly describes how tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) supplier Sensata Technologies has applied the specialized know-how from NIRA Dynamics AB to garner tire tread depth data using just the TPMS sensors that are already installed on all new cars.

The tread depth monitor (TDM) solution employs NIRA Dynamics’ tread wear estimation software to provide vehicle OEMs, consumers, and vehicle fleet operators alerts when vehicles’ tires have worn to unsafe levels and need replacing.

This software-based system uses a complex algorithm that monitors the tire tread’s decreasing depth. It is even smart enough to compensate for a wide range of real-world environmental challenges. The system tracks changes in tires rotations to gauge tread depth with an accuracy of +/- 1.0 mm. 

This virtual TDM can be incorporated into existing Electronic Control Units (ECU) and works with many combinations of tire and vehicle designs. Vehicle manufacturers can quickly introduce and implement the solution across vehicle platforms without the need for custom software development because Sensata and MIRA have already done the hard work. 

“Sensata has developed tire technologies for more than 20 years, and we believe that this new virtual sensor builds on this experience and takes it to the next level,” said Eric Sorret, vice president of automotive at Sensata. “Using and analyzing data already being captured by other sensors, this solution provides accurate and useful information to our customers.” 

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“The cooperation between NIRA and Sensata is a perfect match. By combining our decades of experience in vehicle data cloud services with Sensata’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System, infrastructure, and extensive customer base, we can offer vehicle manufacturers additional insights and information for customers without the need to fit additional hardware on the vehicle,” noted Lisa Åbom, CEO at NIRA Dynamics. “This solution will improve safety, creating more driver awareness about the quality of their tires to decrease the number of tire-related accidents.”

Using RFID technology in tires will even let the TDM system keep accurate track of tire wear when the driver swaps winter tires on and off a vehicle seasonally. Tire wear could be a more easily overlooked item on cars as electric vehicles will not visit service technicians for routine maintenance such as oil changes, so it could be more important to have automatic systems to call this to drivers’ attention.

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Similarly automated fleet vehicles in the future may not have anyone to notice worn tires, making automatic notification of wear crucial. That definitely sounds smarter.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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