Ever had a flat tire? Or driven past someone looking extremely frustrated on the side of the road with a flat? Either way, you know it's just the worst.
But changing a tire on the side of the road is more than just annoying — it can be dangerous and costly, especially for truckers. To help avoid this problem altogether, two Stanford-trained engineers created a new self-inflating tire that prevents a primary reason for blowouts and could save big bucks on gas mileage.
Aperia Technologies says its Halo Tire Inflator technology works like a self-winding watch. The 5-pound device bolts to the center of the truck's wheel and a pump inside captures energy from a pendulum that swings when the wheel rotates at any speed. That rotation produces a pumping action, which is connected to the tire by two air lines; whenever an internal sensor detects low air pressure, the system sends air to the tire.
Most of us just have to worry about four tires, but truckers have three times that — and trucking companies are always eager to maximize efficiency to save some cash. Aperia's website says that properly inflated tires can increase mileage by an average of 1.4 percent, saving up to $2,000 a year per tractor-trailer.
"We worked with a cross-section of the industry, from large commercial trucking companies, some with 60K trucks, down to regional fleets," Joshua Carter, CEO and Founder of Aperia, told TheBlaze.
"We also worked with companies who won awards for pursuing efficient technology for their operations."
Though many of us might picture a nail sticking out of a tire when we think of the cause of a flat, the primary reason for a blowout is actually the constant flexing of a tire’s sidewall from warming and cooling. Aperia's system uses two air lines to connect the pump to the tire; when the Halo's sensor detects low air pressure, it sends air to the tire, according to Wired:
Aperia cites Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data that shows how more than half of all truck tires are under-inflated, which drives up tire maintenance costs by 10 to 15 percent. According to their calculations, properly maintained tire pressure can save up to $2,200 per truck per year–a figure that doesn’t include the savings from greater fuel efficiency and safety.
Sadly, the system is too big for car tires. But Carter says that after two years and 8 million miles of testing, the system is ready for Class 7 and 8 tractor tires across the country, and they are keeping an eye on future options to bring the technology to the everyday tire.
"We are so pleased to have the product ready to serve our primary user group in commercial vehicles," Carter said, "and now that it's in production we are certainly looking at the potential to bring this technology to the millions of other drivers on the road that could see improved safety and fuel economy with this technology."
Check out the video here:
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter