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Tesla Semi To Include Automatic Tire Inflation System

Tesla registered a patent for an automatic tire inflation system for its electric truck: the Tesla Semi will use a new system that avoids failures and problems that are normally caused by the leakage of pollutants.

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office approved a new Tesla patent for its electric Semi truck on February 22nd, 2022. This is the last patent Tesla has filed for an automatic tire inflation system (ATIS - Automatic Tire Inflation System) so far. With the new technology implemented in this patent, problems regularly found in other similar ATIS systems - caused by the leakage of contaminants - are solved.

Circulating with the correct tire pressure is essential in the operation of commercial fleets - and vehicles in general - since it is a characteristic that directly affects efficiency. In the case of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, it could mean an important increase in fuel costs. According to the North American Council for Charging Efficiency, fuel consumption increases between 0.5% and 1% when the tires are running deflated at 0.7; on the other hand, properly inflated tires in turn reduce punctures and other wheel-related breakdowns.

Tesla Semi, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Fuel is obviously not a major problem with an electric vehicle, but efficiency is still a very important thing: wrong tire pressure directly affects the range you can achieve with each battery charging. The recently approved Tesla patent reveals that the company is working on an automatic tire inflation system that monitors and makes sure the tire pressure is always the right one. The system basically monitors the inflation pressure in real time so that when a threshold target value is reached, pressurized air is blown in order to compensate. In addition, it allows the set value to be modified depending on whether or not the vehicle is circulating with a load and also in the event that road conditions require for a greater or lesser contact surface.

This patent application was filed in 2018, shortly after the filing of the Tesla Semi. It mentioned works related to the brake system and its management, tires, and wheels. The person who signed it was John Furtado, who recently returned to Tesla after spending a brief period of time at Daimler Trucks. Tesla's system tries to solve the problems that regularly appear in military vehicles and heavy trucks such as the Mercedes Benz "Unimog": problems are usually caused by the air that is supplied through the hollow drive shafts to a fitting at the end of the shafts. This, coupled with the air inlets of the tires, causes polluting liquid leaks, which ultimately cause the ATIS to fail.

To solve this problem, Tesla mentions in its patent a system that significantly reduces contamination in the ATIS air stream, which in turn extends the life of all its components and increases maintenance intervals. The fact that the United States Patent Office has approved it does not ensure that this system will end up as part of the Tesla Semi, though. While full production of the Semi is yet to begin, some reservation holders are already making active preparations for its arrival, like PepsiCo, which has already prepared the first Megacharger stations for its Tesla Semi fleet in Modesto, California.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.

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