Nexteer Automotive in Auburn Hills and Israel’s Tactile Mobility have unveiled a software solution to improve overall vehicle health management, safety, and performance by detecting changing road surfaces and evolving tire conditions.
This solution is part of the vehicle’s steering system and will enhance the connection between the driver, vehicle, and road, say the companies.
The new software can detect road surface conditions and friction under all road conditions and speeds starting from the vehicle’s parked position at zero and up to low excitation cruising (such as highway driving without acceleration or braking), according to the companies. It does this by integrating Tactile Mobility’s virtual sensors and algorithms into Nexteer’s electric power steering (EPS) system and software.
In today’s vehicles with traditional EPS systems, a driver feels road feedback through the steering wheel and software tuned specifically for the “feel of the road.”
This new software solution is designed to leverage traditional steering feel into a new arena, enabling the vehicle itself to “feel” the road by converting road surface information into data that the vehicle collects, and assigns to road condition scenarios – in real-time.
Furthermore, steering “feel” in fully autonomous vehicles takes on a different perspective given that the human-to-vehicle interface is removed so there is no driver to feel the road. Nexteer and Tactile Mobility’s advanced road detection software ensures this safety feedback by giving a “sense of feel” to the vehicle – increasing levels of safety and redundancy across all levels of autonomous driving.
In addition to road surface detection, the new software and virtual sensors measure tire parameters and health, which is connected to overall vehicle health management. For example, the software identifies and monitors tire tread depth over time and then alerts the driver when it’s time for tire replacement, which in turn enhances safety, performance, and convenience with proactive scheduled maintenance.
“Our new road and tire detection software highlights how we’re combining Nexteer’s expertise in EPS software and steering feel tuning with Tactile Mobility’s sensing technology and data analytics to improve a vehicle’s connection to the road and enable even safer, more reliable driving,” says Robin Milavec, president, chief technology officer, and chief strategy officer at Nexteer Automotive. “We’re excited about the opportunities that this new software can provide to improve overall vehicle health management, safety, and convenience for drivers in all road conditions.”
Nexteer and Tactile Mobility’s software solution has employed machine learning and identified patterns in road surface and tire detection data from more than 20 million miles of driving. Ongoing machine learning will continue to add to the software’s ability to proactively translate road and tire conditions, while providing new significant virtual sensors and insights over time.
In addition to recognizing and translating data patterns, the software also can share road surface data with other vehicles in real-time using cloud computing. This vehicle-to-vehicle “crowd sourcing” of road surface information enables a vehicle to be more aware of its environment, thus improving safety and traffic flow.
The companies say they anticipate that application of their latest software and data analysis to reach beyond global automotive OEMs and into adjacent sectors such as automotive insurance carriers to support safer driving, as well as municipalities in streamlining road maintenance and winterization efforts enabling safer communities.
“We are excited to join forces with Nexteer, bringing our safety enhancing sensors to more vehicles, improving road and vehicle safety for everyone,” says Shahar Bin-Nun, CEO of Tactile Mobility. “With tactile insights, drivers will have previously unavailable information on their vehicle and the road conditions, providing them unprecedented insights to make safer driving choices. This partnership further enables us to address the rapidly growing need for efficient and reliable sensors in the automotive industry and to pave the way toward full autonomy.”