Goodyear to bring commercial fleet testing of self-inflating tires
Two years after commencing a program to develop that could autonomously regulate and maintain its own internal pressure, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has announced it's preparing to begin a series of real-world evaluations on commercial vehicles fitted with its Air Maintenance Technology (AMT) tires that will commence in 2013. The decision to commence testing in this arena is based on the fact that tire-related costs - many directly the result of improper inflation pressures - account for more than half of all commercial truck fleet breakdowns. However, the AMT system also can be readily adapted to the tires used on passenger cars. According to Goodyear, the benefits provided by AMT will be seen in improved fuel economy, extended tire tread life and optimized handling, regardless of vehicle type.
"While the technology is complex, the idea behind the AMT system is relatively simple and powered by the tire itself as it rolls down the road," said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer. The AMT design is actuated by an internal sensor that determines when the tire's pressure has dropped below a given threshold and an inlet valve mounted in its sidewall that opens and closes in response. When inflation levels fall below a predetermined bogey, the tire's own rotation and the vehicle's weight rhythmically compresses and releases an internal "pumping tube" connected to the valve that adds more air to raise the internal pressure. When the target pressure is reached, the system is shut down until the next time it's needed.
"A tire that can maintain its own inflation is something drivers have wanted for many years. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging," notes Kihn. "This will become the kind of technological breakthrough that people will wonder how they ever lived without."