One simple maintenance task that most car owners tend to ignore is keeping an eye on tire pressure. Soon that chore may be history, if an automatic tire inflating system from Goodyear works works as advertised.
Their Air Maintenance Technology (AMT) is a deceptively simple system that uses the rolling of the tire to pump in new air when needed. A rubber tube is embedded in the wall of the tire near the bead that mounts it onto the rim. As the tire is pressed onto the pavement by the weight of the vehicle, the tube is squeezed shut in a motion that follows the rotation of the tire, kind of like squeezing toothpaste along a tube. A pressure sensor inside the tire determines when more air is needed, and then opens a valve to let the air in thereby pumping up the tire. Once the correct pressure is reached, the valve shuts and the pressure is maintained.
Just getting down on your knees to use a tire pressure gauge can be a real pain, not to mention fishing around to find some change for the air pump. This system would maintain the proper pressure at all times, helping to save fuel as well as improving handling and safety.
Goodyear plans to test the AMT system starting next year on commercial trucks. That sounds like a good plan when you consider what a royal pain keeping 18 tires in check must be. If the system works reliably under the much tougher conditions of truck use, it seems like it would be a no-brainer for cars.
I just hope this guy got himself some kind of patent, because his PumpTire for bicycles seems almost identical in concept.