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Intel® Technology Story: Checking Tires at 75 mph

Laser-based systems can measure tread wear as a tire passes over a grate at 75 mph. Thanks to the processing power of the Intel® CoreTM2 Duo processor, thread depth can be calculated in about two milliseconds.

Intel® Technology Story: Checking Tires at 75 mph

As the tread wears on your tires, braking takes longer and steering can be more difficult – particularly on wet or slippery roads. And while you might check your tires regularly, what about the thousands of cars passing you every day? Are their worn tires putting you at risk?

It is well known that sub-optimal tire tread plays a significant role in traffic accidents. In Germany alone, up to 60,000 accidents a year are related to poor tire quality, with damages up to 200 million Euro per year.

The German company, ProContour*, is working on this problem, making roads smarter and, consequently, safer. Advanced laser triangulation is used to measure tread wear as a tire passes over a specialized sealed grate at 75 mph. A digital high-speed camera embedded in the road captures the laser line-illuminated tire surface and records 3D profiles – up to 16,000 images per second. Thanks to the parallel processing power of the 1.2 GHz Intel® CoreTM2 Duo processor, tread depth can be calculated in barely more than two milliseconds.

“Reliable real-time processes are the indispensable basis for the success of our systems,” says Frank H. Schaefer, Managing Director of ProContour GmbH. Using Ethernet cable or wireless LAN, this high-resolution image data (1536 x 512 pixels) is transmitted in real-time. Information can be used to alert drivers that their tires need replacement via roadside displays, similar to those used to alert drivers of their speed. Drivers with worn tires could also receive notices in the mail. This technology would motivate people to check their tires more often and replace them before they become a hazard, thus improving road safety.