According to a paper published recently in the journal Nature, the transition of autonomous vehicles into fleets requires an advanced control system design that relies on continuous feedback from the tires.
Smart tires could enable continuous monitoring of dynamic driving parameters by combining strain sensing with traditional tire monitoring functions. In the paper, titled 3D printed graphene-based self-powered strain sensors for smart tires in autonomous vehicles, the authors claim to have made a breakthrough with the development of a direct mask-less 3D-printed strain gauge, combined with a flexible piezoelectric energy harvester for powering the sensors and a secure wireless data transfer system, coupled with machine learning to facilitate predictive data analysis.
The paper states that ink created from a graphene-based material was formulated to directly print a strain sensor for measuring tire-road interactions under varying driving conditions. A secure wireless data transfer system, powered by a piezoelectric patch, was then utilized to provide self-powered sensing and wireless communication capability.
Apparently, the wrinkled microstructure of graphene allowed the sensor to withstand considerable deformation without failure, and the sensors were integrated into a tire and rig tested.
The authors note that the study paves the way for the design and fabrication of cost-effective smart tires by demonstrating a practical, self-powered wireless strain sensing capability.