Nexteer Automotive and Tactile Mobility have announced a software solution to improve overall vehicle health management, safety and performance by detecting changing road surfaces (wet, dry, icy, etc.) and evolving tire conditions (tire stiffness, tread depth, etc.). This solution is part of the vehicle’s steering system and will enhance the connection among driver, vehicle and road through new, advanced road and tire detection software.
Deeper Connection to “Feel of the Road”
Road feedback plays an important safety element in giving the driver a sense of hazardous road conditions (e.g., icy, gravely, potholes etc.). The companies’ 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). 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 leverages 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, interprets and assigns to road condition scenarios – all in real-time.
Furthermore, steering “feel” in fully autonomous vehicles takes on a unique 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 important safety feedback by giving a “sense of feel” to the vehicle – increasing levels of safety and redundancy across all levels of autonomous driving.
Tire Health Management
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,” said Robin Milavec, President, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and Executive Board Director, 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.”
Machine Learning, Connected Vehicles & Crowd Sourcing Safety-Related Data
Nexteer and Tactile Mobility’s software solution has employed machine learning and identified patterns in road surface and tire detection data from over 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 can also 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.
Applications in Mobility, Insurance, Municipalities & More
Nexteer and Tactile Mobility anticipate that application of their latest software and data analysis breakthrough 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,” said 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.”