Despite the endless warnings about the need to keep tires properly inflated---both for safety and fuel-economy reasons---millions of Americans regularly find countless reasons for not bothering to check those critical pressures. To put an end to that oft-overlooked chore, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has announced its developing a new system that can do the job automatically. Goodyear's revolutionary Air Maintenance Technology (AMT) consists of a miniaturized sensor and pump unit that's fully self contained within the tire itself and requires no outside input to keep pressures optimized.

Although the tire maker did not provide pricing data or a specific timetable for commercial introduction of this innovation, it confirmed that additional development grants from the U.S. and European Union countries have put AMT on the fast track. Initial work is being focused on perfecting AMT for use in commercial truck tires, but passenger car applications will follow.

"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. "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. This will become the kind of technological breakthrough that people will wonder how they ever lived without."

Beyond AMT---which is projected to boost fuel economy numbers on passenger cars and trucks by 2.5 and 3.3 percent, respectively---Goodyear is involved in a related joint project with PPG Industries aimed at further increasing mpg stats by decreasing the rolling resistance of next-gen tires through the use of new types of tread and inner-liner technologies.

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