Auto-Align is a development project that creates a monitoring system to enable commercial vehicle operators to reduce particulate emissions resulting from tyre and road wear. These particulate emissions, along with other non exhaust emissions from brakes, have an equal contribution to total vehicle atmospheric emissions as exhaust fumes, but attract substantially lower levels of attention and investment.
The project will develop an onboard system that continuously monitors wheel alignment in trucks and trailers. Wheel misalignment significantly increases tyre and road wear, releasing harmful particulates into the air, as well as adding to a vehicle’s fuel consumption. Auto-Align is designed to detect misalignment as it happens, (i.e when a curb is clipped) so that it can be corrected before it has an effect on tyre wear. Through this real-time detection and correction, the particulate emissions related to tyre and road wear will be significantly reduced, leading to cleaner, safer air around roads and in urban areas.
Alignment checks are not mandatory either during routine vehicle servicing or as part of VOSA inspections and MOTs. Instead vehicles must be taken to workspaces with specialised equipment. This means that misalignment in commercial vehicles can go unnoticed for up to a year. UK tyre service providers estimate that 30% of commercial vehicles at a given time have misaligned wheels. Using Auto-Align, misalignment for any significant period of time could be entirely eliminated. In the UK this has the potential to reduce by 5% the total airborne tyre related particulates generated from commercial vehicles.
The system being proposed will be low cost and retrofittable for maximum uptake. Sensors will be attached to wheels and transmit data to a cloud platform. The data will be analysed using Artificial Intelligence techniques to determine alignment. Results will be then clearly delivered to drivers and fleet managers, ensuring that misalignments are corrected as soon as possible. This project builds on the work done by RL Capital in CAV1 InnovateUK project No. 102585 on tyre pressure monitoring and fault detection for Autonomous Vehicles.