Intelligent Suspension System Lab

Tire Sensor Development and Energy Regenerative Mechanisms for Safety, Comfort and Efficiency – Farid Golnaraghi, School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, Simon Fraser University

Executive Summary

As safety, comfort and protection take precedence in future transportation systems, electronic sensing will dramatically penetrate every aspect of the automobile. Air bag deployment, navigation and comfort systems, crash avoidance and, in the future, brake-by-wire and drive-by-wire will provide opportunities and raise the need for advanced smart sensory systems. Energy efficiency is another major aspect of future vehicles, particularly electric vehicles, where development of advanced energy efficient safety systems is fast becoming the focus of automotive system developers. Harnessing the otherwise wasted energy from road induced vibrations and the brake system are effective ways to achieve this goal – through intelligent sensing and power electronics control. Evidently, most of these desired functionalities and features are related to the tire performance – more specifically skidding, roll over, bounce and vibrations. Physical variables such as tire pressure and temperature will also influence fuel economy. As a result, the latest industrial interest effort is to instrument tires to get first-hand information on vehicle performance such as speed, acceleration, contact forces or moments, and air pressure, to name a few. Given the obvious major challenges associated with online monitoring of tire performance, tire instrumentation was ignored, or avoided, until very recently.

A successful active safety, vehicle monitoring, and (a suspension based) energy harvesting system require access to measured data on vehicle roll, pitch, yaw, road-tire friction coefficient and transmitted forces and torques to each tire, as well as the tire pressure, speed, and temperature. This information then needs to be processed by the vehicle on-board computer to maintain control of various safety features like Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), and Active Rollover Protection (ARP), and to improve the performance of Active Noise Control (ANC) systems. With a better knowledge of the disturbances transmitted to the vehicle through the tires, the road induced vibrations can more effectively be captured and converted into electrical energy.

This multidisciplinary project is intended to finalize the development of highly advanced “smart” sensors for vehicle tires that include wireless transmission modules and microsensors. Further effort will be placed on energy harvesting and regenerative mechanisms to provide the required energy for the sensory system. In this project we will develop the core technologies and define a research and technology roadmap for the integration of distributed sensors for on-board intelligent systems that will improve vehicle safety, comfort, and performance. A primary application focus will be on embedded, wireless, self-energized sensors in tires for measurement of road applied forces, tire pressure, and temperature. This information can then be directly used in High Performance Real-time Control to harvest energy and to improve handling, comfort, vehicle stability, and safety, including a reduction in the occurrence of vehicle rollover. The project further reflects a close collaboration with various Canadian companies with high potential for commercialization of the proposed technologies in Canada. These Canadian companies include Future Vehicle Technologies, SST Wireless, DALSA and CMC.

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