Tactile Mobility Announces the First-of-its-Kind ‘Virtual' Tire Tread Depth Measurement Solution

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【Summary】Tactile Mobility, a virtual sensing technology company, announces the first-of-its-kind “virtual sensing technology” which can determine a tire’s tread depth using sensors already installed in the vehicle. The company recently announced a commercial collaboration with the BMW group to implement its virtual sensors in BMW vehicles.

FutureCar Staff    Apr 08, 2021 6:25 PM PT
Tactile Mobility Announces the First-of-its-Kind ‘Virtual' Tire Tread Depth Measurement Solution

Tactile Mobility, a virtual sensing technology company, announced new capabilities of it's "virtual sensing technology", which can now determine a tire's tread depth using sensors already installed in the vehicle. 

With its "virtual sensing" technology, Tactile Mobility developed a method to analyze raw data from a vehicle to detect a sudden loss of traction from any of a vehicle's tires. The technology is an inexpensive way to increase passenger safety and could be well suited for shared autonomous vehicles in the future.

The company's existing technology can already determine road surface conditions by analyzing vehicle sensors, but now its being supplemented for determining tire tread condition. Tactile Mobility was able to add the tire tread depth analysis to its existing road sensing technology. 

Tactile Mobility's newest solution receives data from the vehicle's existing sensors, such as wheel speed, brake pedal position, steering angle and yaw. Using proprietary algorithms combined with AI, The raw sensor data is used to detect subtle wheel slip that's caused by a sudden loss of traction that's due to worn out tires.

Tire tread depth is crucial in vehicle safety, especially in inclimate weather. But having tires that are in good condition also contributes to better braking and shorter stopping distances, thereby increasing driver and passenger safety. 

While all vehicles produced after 2007 have tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that monitor the air pressure of each wheel, developers have yet to come up with a novel and cost effective way to determine a tire's tread condition without having a service technician physically measure it using a tread depth gauge.

"To prioritize driver and passenger safety, it's critical that vehicles contain cost-effective, virtual sensors that not only estimate tire tread depth in real-time, but also inform drivers when it's time to replace their tires," said Boaz Mizrachi, CTO and Co-founder of Tactile Mobility. "For the first time, the mobility industry will have access to an affordable, in-vehicle solution that not only automatically monitors tire tread depth, but also warns drivers before their tires become unsafe." 

Tactile Mobility's technology uses a vehicle's existing sensors to gather data, including wheel speed, steering angle, brake pedal position and engine RPM. By analyzing this data using proprietary algorithms, the company's sensing technology can determine how well a vehicle handles current road conditions in real-time, including the level of grip on a twisty road in wet weather. 

This data is important, since the condition of a vehicle's tires also has a direct effect on traction, braking and handling.

Tactile Mobility's core sensing technology collects data using an embedded processor in the vehicle's electrontronic control unit (ECU). The technology can also work on an external aftermarket device connected to a vehicle's CANBus network, the company said. 

The data from the vehicle is then transformed into what the company calls "SurfaceDNA" in the cloud, where it is further analyzed. SurfaceDNA models road features, including grade, curves, grip levels, as well as the location of road surface irregularities, such as cracks and potholes.

Once the raw sensor data is uploaded to the cloud and analyzed, it's fed back to the vehicle's ECU, so that on-board advanced driver assist systems can be activated to reduce risk. This process enables the company to generate real-time actionable insights about vehicle-road dynamics. 

Tactile Mobility said its developing a comprehensive suite of automated tire health monitoring capabilities that addresses all common tire conditions affecting vehicle safety, including tire stiffness, mismatched tire sizes, as well as tire blowout prediction.

OEMs can use this tire tread data to improve driver and passenger safety by ensuring optimal configuration of their vehicles, providing in-vehicle alerts or preconditioning vehicle systems to deal with a sudden loss of traction. The technology can also be used to notify drivers that their vehicle's tires may need servicing. 

Tactile Mobility recently announced a commercial collaboration with the BMW group to implement its virtual sensors in BMW vehicles. In addition, the company is successfully collaborating with 6 other OEMs and Tier 1s, including Porsche. The others were not named.

The company said it has formed partnerships with 10 road authorities and municipalities across the globe, including in the UK, Germany, Israel, Singapore, and Detroit.

Tactile Mobility was co-founded in 2012 by Boaz Mizrachi, Yossi Shiri and Alex Ackerman. The company is based in Haifa, Israel with a presence in Europe, Silicon Valley and Asia. 

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