Nexteer, Tactile Mobility partner to help cars detect road conditions

The system has drawn interest from automakers because it is based entirely on software, said Joe Klesing, Nexteer’s product line executive for software.

“We’re not adding any additional hardware or anything like that,” he said. “That’s attractive for OEMs because there aren’t additional hardware costs, and it can work within the existing electronics platforms they have.”

The virtual sensors and algorithms developed by Tactile Mobility can be integrated into the electric power steering systems and software developed by Nexteer, meaning no additional parts or physical sensors are required.

The innovation comes about a year after Nexteer invested in Tactile Mobility, an Israeli startup founded in 2012. The company’s software, which is in use on BMW production models, collects data from built-in vehicle sensors on everything from gear position to wheel angle from vehicles’ built-in sensors.

The new development gives Nexteer the ability to introduce new features to help a driver make decisions when approaching a hazardous stretch of a roadway, Klesing said.

“It can help us build apps to [help] the driver do the right thing before hitting those icy spots,” he said. “We keep the driver safer while preventing an information overload.”

Nexteer said the software was developed through machine learning by identifying patterns in road surface and tire detection data from more than 20 million miles of driving.

“As the system gets in production and data is collected and available, our customers are getting more ideas about what you can do and what services and functions you can offer,” he said.

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