Germans working on "intelligent tires" for winter

BERLIN - OCTOBER 07: The profile of a snow tire is pictured at a tire dealer on October 7, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. German drivers will be forced to make sure they have proper tyres for driving in mud and snow this winter after Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer announced a safety crackdown on Wednesday. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Andreas Rentz/Getty

(CBS News) The big trend in car technology is making your car work for you. A good example of this is Cadillac's "semi-autonomous" driving system that lets drivers cruise hands-free. And now a group of German scientists are getting tires in on the act as well. Researchers at Germany's Leipzig University are developing "intelligent tires" that will be able to detect conditions on the road and adapt accordingly - even while driving.

At the Hanover Fair, the world's biggest industrial fair taking place in the north German city, lead researcher Detlef Riemer unveiled his team's "adaptive tire."

"Today's choices of tires are always a compromise between the ability to brake and petrol consumption," Riemer said. "The car driver has to take into consideration every sort of weather condition, and you can't change tires while you're driving."

But Riemer hopes that will change with his adaptive tire, which comes equipped with electronic sensors that identify road conditions, including weather, and react. The tires are able to rise or widen to accommodate road conditions even while the car is in motion.

"That means your car is always equipped with the best possible tire and noise and petrol consumption are automatically optimized, too," Riemer said according to the New York Daily News. The driver no longer has to think about adapting their tires. The tire itself 'thinks' too."

Naturally, this technology is still a long way from hitting the road. Research is still ongoing, and the scientists are still perfecting what materials to include in the tires.

"But we've patented it already, just in case." Riemer said.


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