Smart tires are very likely going to be a key part of our autonomous vehicle future. They perform like any other tire, but with the added ability to monitor how they interact with various road surfaces in various conditions. An international team of researchers has developed a graphene-based, self-powered strain sensor for smart tires that collect and transmit road and strain data.
Authors of the study, which was recently published in the journal Nature, say the eventual transition of autonomous vehicles into fleets will require an advanced control system that receives continuous feedback from the tires. The system they’ve devised includes graphene-based ink that allows the team to print strain sensors directly onto the tire which collect and transmit gathered data. Powering the device and allowing it to transmit data is made possible by an embedded piezoelectric energy harvesting patch.
“Combined, this study significantly advances the design and fabrication of cost-effective smart tires by demonstrating practical self-powered wireless strain sensing capability,” the authors write.
The team notes other efforts to integrate wireless sensors into tires was hung up by physical limitations, like their rigidity and need for an external power source. Their graphene ink-based sensors eliminate those issues without adding excessive cost.