Tech Company Developing Tech so Cars can Feel the Road

Most sensors contained within self-driving vehicles are of the type that takes visual information from outside the car and use it to navigate a path. An Israeli startup is looking at a new way of implementing sensors in self-driving cars. Their idea is to implant sensors that give a tactile sensation of the car’s surroundings to a central processing unit. It can “feel” the road surface it’s on, and using that information, keep the vehicle safely driving to its destination. Tactile Mobility’s two product offerings are called SurfaceDNA and VehicleDNA.

More Depth Than Visual Only

As most drivers can attest, using just visual input for driving puts the operator of a vehicle at a disadvantage. Even so, drivers don’t have the benefit of feeling the road directly, just through the interaction with their vehicle’s wheels with the surface. Tactile Mobility’s technology would allow the car to pick up on values that aren’t available from simple visual input. Friction on the road and moisture at the surface are two examples of variables that tactile mobility’s system can enable vehicles to appreciate and factor into their calculations. The company doesn’t see these sensors as replacing the visually-based ones that self-driving cars currently use, but aiding them in a combined sensory matrix. Tactile mobility terms the interaction of the SurfaceDNA and VehicleDNA systems as “tactile mapping.” Thanks to the wonder of IoT, the vehicles that pick up on issues such as road hazards can post them publicly for other drivers to be aware of.

Routine Maintenance Warnings

As a bonus to vehicle owners, having this sort of sensory data makes for more accurate routine maintenance warnings. The sensors that the vehicle uses to monitor the conditions on the road can be purposed to measure wear-and-tear on the engine, tires, and other mechanical issues that may pop up. Automakers have already started taking notice of the new technology. Tactile Mobility expects to see their system in use within the next two years.