Tire pressure monitoring systems are booming as auto makers prepare to phase them into new vehicles beginning this fall.
Several companies displayed or introduced new systems during the Society of Automotive Engineers 2003 World Congress, held March 3-6 in Detroit.
Goodyear and Siemens A.G.'s Siemens VDO Automotive unit debuted their batteryless Tire IQ pressure monitoring system during a technical presentation at the SAE show.
The tire maker also introduced the device the same week in Europe at the Geneva Motor Show and at the Tire Technology Exposition in Hamburg, Germany.
The companies hope to make their system an industry standard by licensing the technology to other tire makers and electronics firms or producing Tire IQ for smaller companies that don't have the technical infrastructure to make it, said Steve Roth, director of Goodyear's Vehicle Systems Group.
Goodyear began developing the technology in the 1990s, but the current system works through a radio frequency tire tag created by both the tire maker and Siemens.
The tag-about the size of a watch battery-is made up of a computer chip and sensor that monitor tire temperature and air pressure in each tire and relay the information to the driver via a radio frequency system developed by Siemens.
``We based our system on very sound, proven technology that's already in the market today,'' Mr. Roth said. ``The way the tires talk to the monitoring system is the same way keyless entry talks to the vehicle.''
The tag can be molded into the tire before the curing process or glued into the sidewall to suit customer requirements, he said.
Tire IQ also includes jointly developed software that calculates the number of miles left for the driver to correct pressure losses and recommends tire pressure based on data including air temperature, tire pressure, tire load, vehicle speed and other driving habits.
The software-generated pressure recommendation will fall within the recommended set of load inflation tables, Mr. Roth said, ``but we can always recommend optimal inflation pressure.''
Goodyear is in discussions with several major vehicle makers and anticipates the technology could be available on new vehicles as early as the 2006 model year, he said.
QinetiQ P.L.C., the former United Kingdom defense agency, and First Technology P.L.C., a global supplier of safety and comfort products, also presented a batteryless option at the Detroit automotive parts show.
The two co-developed a tire pressure monitor whose sensor valves can be fitted to the wheel just as conventional pressure valves are. The sensor valves feature a thin filament of metallic alloy, developed by QinetiQ, that changes in characteristic as the tire deflates and then is detected and conveyed through radio waves to on-board monitoring equipment.
The system allows for individual monitoring of the pressure in both the spare and road tires. First Technology and QinetiQ plan to have a prototype ready to market to automotive companies by the fall and the system on 2006 model year production vehicles, Melanie Sadler, an application scientist at QinetiQ, said during the SAE show. Also at SAE was the exhibit of Cycloid Co., a 10-year-old Pennsylvania-based firm that counts Goodyear among its investors.
At the invitation of DaimlerChrysler A.G., Cycloid displayed its AutoPump system at the car maker's innovative technology pavilion.
The first generation of Cycloid's on-board continuous air pressure monitoring and maintenance system was purely mechanical and used solely in the heavy-duty market, said President and CEO A. Mervyn Carse.
The next generation of the product, AutoPump, includes both electronic and mechanical systems and also provides continuous air replacement when needed to keep the tire at its preset inflation, while alerting the driver to abnormal tire conditions.
The system's patented inertia air compressor, about the size of a hockey puck, is mounted in the center of the wheel with a direct airway through the wheel into the tire.
AutoPump electronically monitors tire pressure and other data, drives in air through tire rotation to keep it inflated to preset levels and transmits that information via radio frequency to an in-vehicle receiver.
The system's software analyzes the performance of each tire and alerts the driver to both significant and smaller pressure losses that are being offset by the pump. AutoPump will be an option on an upcoming 2005 model year vehicle with an unnamed, domestic car maker, Mr. Carse said.