Adding air to a tire isn’t a difficult job, but who needs the aggravation, especially if the weather is nasty? Such maintenance may become a thing of the past thanks to a new in-tire system, called Air Maintenance Technology (AMT), being developed by Goodyear.
Tires naturally lose small amounts of air, which can gradually add up to under-inflation.
The AMT system would “top up” the tire whenever necessary when the vehicle is being driven, eliminating the need for the driver to do it at a gas station air pump.
“There’s a small filter on the outside of the tire that allows air to get in, but not water, dust and dirt,” says Kerry Christopher, senior manager of communications for Goodyear Research and Development.
“The tire essentially becomes the pump.”
As a tire rolls down the road, it flexes and bounces. The AMT system Goodyear is developing would take advantage of that movement, using it to pump the air through the filter and into the tire as needed.
The system is relatively simple, Christopher says.
“It’s not a lot of parts. It’s a regulator and other components built into the tire. There’s no battery, no electronics of any kind. It’s built into the tire itself, not into the wheel, and it’s not in the valve stem, it’s in the sidewall.”
The regulator would be set to the specific pressure for the tire and vehicle, and would prevent the tire from overfilling with air. The car’s tire pressure monitoring system would still keep the driver informed about pressure, “but we’re guessing you wouldn’t have to look at it as often,” Christopher says.
The pump technology is still undergoing testing and the company hasn’t yet announced when it will be available or what it will cost, “but it will have all sorts of benefits to the traveller, (including) improved fuel economy, reduced emissions, longer tire life, and enhanced safety and performance benefits,” Christopher says.
“There are a lot of good things that happen when your tire is inflated properly, and this ensures that all of these things are possible. Tires do a lot of things and they’re very high-tech, but most people overlook that.
“They just get in their cars and go, but tires are the only thing between you and the road.”