Kamis, 07 April 2011

Tiny Device Alerts You To Pump Up Your Tires

A new federal auto safety requirement has engineers busy perfecting a tiny sensor that could help make accidents resulting from underinflated tires a thing of the past. The regulation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires all passenger cars to be equipped with tire-pressure monitoring systems by 2008. Automakers will begin installing the systems on their 2006 models. The rule gives manufacturers of micro-electro mechanical systems, also called MEMS, a lucrative opportunity to cash in. According to a report by ASME, a professional engineering organization, there could be a demand for 70 million MEMS tire-pressure sensors a year as a result of the requirement. Vehicles equipped with MEMS-based tire-pressure systems have a sensor attached to the inside of the rim of each wheel, which measures the tire pressure and transmits the data to a central receiver in the vehicle. The receiver then analyzes the data and tire-pressure readouts are displayed to the driver. If the tire pressure is too low, warning lights alert the driver of a potential hazard. The pressure sensor is a high-tech device containing several components including a temperature sensor, voltage sensor, accelerometer, micro-controller, antenna and battery. The NHTSA estimates that the new mandate would cost auto manufacturers an average of about $48 to $69 per vehicle, depending on the technology used. Currently, engineers are working to design tire-pressure monitoring systems that are functional, cost-effective and, at the same time, able to withstand extreme temperatures, vibrations and other rigors of the road. MEMS manufacturers are presenting their prototypes to automobile and tire companies for consideration as they move to comply with the rule.

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