US engineers have developed a smart tyre that tells drivers when it needs replacing or inflating. Wen Ko, an engineer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a team at the tyre manufacturing company Goodyear, which was led by William Dunn, have designed and patented tiny pressure and temperature sensors that rely on microscopic components known as microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS). Sensors that use MEMS technology are cheap, reliable and remain stable over the life of the tyre, which is estimated to be around 10-12 years. The pressure sensor is a tiny capacitor made from two parallel silicon plates. The thinner top plate changes shape depending on the air pressure in the tyre, which produces a calculable change in the capacitance of the device.
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