May 17, 2022

Tesla introduces semi-tire inflation system with new patent

Electric vehicle and battery maker Tesla has filed a patent for a new tire inflation system particularly relevant to Cybertrucks and Tesla Semis.

Disclosed last week to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the new automatic tire inflation system, according to the USPTO abstract, includes valves controlled by a controller, the valves having an air supply inlet and a plurality of air outlets.

Truck and trailer combinations that include more than four wheels usually have the rear wheels driven by a single axle or a single differential.

Since a single motor can drive the rear wheels through one or more driveshafts and differentials, maintaining target pressure across all of these tires is difficult.

Tesla’s automatic tire inflation systems were developed to maintain target air pressure in all tires.

For battery-powered heavy-duty vehicles, getting the most out of a charge will depend on the smallest efficiencies, especially in freight transport where keeping the right tire on the truck and trailer combination is crucial.

The system includes at least one drive axle having inner bearings and outer bearings, a channel formed in an axle, a first hose coupling a valve of the valves controlled by the computer to the channel formed in the axle, a channel formed in a hub , a rotating air seal residing between the inner bearings and the outer bearings and coupling the channel formed in the spindle to the channel formed in the hub, and a second pipe connecting the channel formed in the hub to at least one wheel.

This system, according to Tesla, significantly reduces contamination in the airflow of the tire inflation system and ensures, at least in theory, a longer life.

“The rotary seal can transition,” according to the summary, “from a sealed state that forms a seal between the spindle and the hub to support airflow between the channel formed in the spindle and the channel formed in the hub and reside in an unsealed state to negate the seal between the spindle and the hub.

A method of operating the tire inflation system for use with a vehicle includes monitoring the air pressure of at least one tire, determining that inflation of at least one tire is necessary, and opening at least one valve to allow air to flow.

It should be noted that the vehicle in the main schematic shown as part of Tesla’s patent disclosure scheme has ten wheels.