Previously trialed on the M6 motorway, a UK-developed technology that measures the tread depth and pressure of tires in seconds has been unveiled as part of a groundbreaking live ‘highway of the future’ project in the USA.
Able to monitor tire condition without the need for any equipment or sensors on the vehicle itself, the road-embedded technology has been developed by WheelRight, an Oxford-based company. The unique, drive-over technology has been adopted by The Ray, an 18 mile (29km) stretch of Interstate 85 in Georgia, which aims to show how zero deaths, zero waste and zero carbon can be achieved on US highways. The Ray is a ‘living laboratory’ proving ground for new ideas and technologies that will transform the transport infrastructure of the future. The groundbreaking environmental project is named after Ray C Anderson, a Georgia native and entrepreneur, recognized as a leader in green business ethics.
US Department of Transport data demonstrates that underinflated tires can lead to skidding, hydroplaning, increased stopping distance, and blowouts, which all increase the chances for crashes that can result in fatalities and injuries. It is estimated that 5 million gallons (22.7m liters) of fuel are wasted every day in the USA due to low tire pressure. Working with vehicle partner Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia; the program’s UK-based innovation consultancy, Innovia Technology; and the charitable foundation behind the project, WheelRight is providing its drive-over tire monitoring technology at The Ray’s West Point Visitor Information Center, which sees nearly 244,000 cars and trucks stop annually for travel guidance and comfort breaks.
The installed WheelRight instrument comprises two sensor plates that are mounted flush with the road surface. Vehicles driving over the pressure in motion (PiM) sensors are identified using an ANPR system. Tread depth measurements are achieved by using cameras and specialist lighting that capture images of the tires on the vehicle at speeds of up to 10mph (16km/h). The multiple images are processed using sophisticated imaging software to measure the tread depth across the entire circumference of each tire, delivering the results in seconds. This will be the first publicly available installation of the WheelRight drive-over tire safety system anywhere in the USA. Results of tire pressure and tread depth measurements will be provided automatically on all tires within seconds via a touch-sensitive kiosk that provides a printed readout to drivers.
“While we’ve already road tested our technology on the UK’s busy M6 motorway, the adoption of our tire monitoring technology at The Ray opens up this technology to a completely new market of American motorists,” explained John Catling, WheelRight’s CEO and founder. “The opportunity to demonstrate our solution to around 750,000 drivers and passengers every year at The Ray is a great way of spreading the word about our simple, drive-over solution. We think this kind of cloud-based technology could revolutionize the way people look after their tires, reducing accidents, costs and carbon emissions.”
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