Cars to predict their own breakdown

Cars of the future will automatically detect damaged parts and estimate how long they will last.

“A structural health-monitoring system for cars would do the same thing for mechanical health that a fuel gauge does for fuel level,” says Douglas Adams, from Purdue University.


The researchers’ test car sat on top of an automatic shaker that simulates the bumps and jolts of a car ride. They attached sensors that measure vibrations to the bottom of the car’s strut, steering knuckle-control arm connection, and at other places within the suspension.

Then they introduced “damage” into the system by loosening a bolt that connects the steering knuckle to the control arm. The vibration data was analysed by a software that identified the damage and quantified it.

The vibrations are almost like human heartbeats, in that a specialist can detect what sounds healthy or not. Any change can be used to determine which part is not working properly, as well as revealing the extent of the damage. In two to three years, Adams believes the technology could be integrated into a car’s design.

In addition, Adams says he and his colleague are already applying the detection process to aircraft, spacecraft, tyres, gas turbine engines and even weapon systems.

Via ABC news. More details in the Purdue News.