Monday, September 28, 2009

Bridgestone Scientists Create Nano Sensor System for Smart Tires

In the future tires with nanosensors will wirelessly warn a driver if the vehicle is about to experience a blowout or if the tire is experiencing some other sort of trouble that demands attention.

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (Nashville, TN) inventors John D. Rensel, Paul B. Wilson and Francis L. Merat have developed a nano-wireless sensor system to be embedded in the elastomeric materials of tires to continually monitor the health of the tire. The future of intelligent tires as well as other smart car materials is outlined in U.S. Patent 7,581,439

The sensors may be configured to simultaneously provide data related to one or more factors including temperature, pressure, sidewall flex, stress, strain and other parameters. The sensing system obtains data useful for monitoring tire properties or characteristics including tire tread wear, tire pressure, tire temperature, and sidewall flex. Non-uniformities in the tire can also be monitored and/or discovered such as bulges, punctures, broken threads or cords. Other irregularities can be determined in this manner such as vehicle suspension anomalies due to irregular tread wear or footprint changes. The information is relayed to the driver through a computer display.

The radio frequency (RF) sensors are embedded in the body cord ply material, the belt layer material, and the sidewall material, each sensor being sufficiently small enough to avoid being an occlusion. For example a sensors can activate to provide signals at a threshold temperature corresponding to an undesirable tire temperature or the sensors deactivate and cease providing signals at a threshold temperature corresponding to an undesirable tire temperature.

The sensor length-scales range from nano- to micro-scale devices that are small enough to avoid becoming occlusions within the tire. The sensors may be LCD sensors, conductive polymer sensors, bio-polymer sensors and polymer diodes suitable for sensing data during the operation of the tire. A power circuit using energy generated by the tire provides power to the sensors.

The data collection device includes an antenna for receiving the sensed data in the form of electromagnetic radiation. A data processor is connected to the data collection device for processing the sensed data in order to synthesize information about the tire properties being monitored. The data processor can be a computing device such as a dedicated processor, a conventional computer such as a personal computer or laptop, or other known electronic devices for collecting and processing signals obtained from wireless sensors.

Though the examples described are in reference to pneumatic vehicle tires, it should be appreciated that other tires--such as airless and solid tires--and other elastomeric articles, including air springs, conveyor belts, roofing materials, sporting goods, etc. may also be monitored using a sensing system of similar construction and implementation.

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