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Your Car Tires Could Soon Detect Slippery Roads

It's a scary feeling: you're driving down a long stretch of highway when your tires start to spin out of control—you're hydroplaning. Even when you feel like you have control, a layer of water can get between the road and your vehicle. But now, the Japanese company Sumitomo Rubber Industries has developed technology that could allow your tires to know when driving conditions are slippery before you do.

Tires Smarter Than Us

Sumitomo has been selling a system for the past 20 years that automatically detects when the pressure decreases in your car tires: "Its DWS, or Deflation Warning System, uses simple sensors to measure the rotation speed of a tire, which increases as it deflates and gets smaller." The system also measures—and this is key—the "vibration frequencies of the tire." Gizmodo notes that as a tire goes flat, these vibrations will change drastically.

Vibrations are also key to the tech that will hopefully save you from scary hydroplaning experiences in the future. Nikkei Technology explains how it works: "It compares data collected on a non-slip road such as an asphalt road with data collected on a slippery road. On a slippery road, the rotation speed of tires slightly increases, depending on the vehicle speed, and the vibration frequency also changes." Then what? You'll actually be alerted to drive carefully or slow down before you even know the roads are slick.

Traffic Safety, Upgraded

Probably the coolest part of Sumitomo's tire systems is that it's inexpensive. Because the DWS technology relies on your car's existing sensors and hardware, it's "simple, cheap, and incredibly reliable." And the intelligent software in both technologies allows for your tires' information to be easily shared to online navigation systems. In other words, your smartphone's real-time traffic notifications could get a major upgrade.

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Written by Curiosity Staff July 1, 2017

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