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AI Uses Smartphone to Check Tread Depth

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The Monocular Tread Depth Reader was developed with help from Precision Automotive Equipment Australia and Hunter Engineering's Quick Tread Edge drive-over scanner with an integrated LPR camera. Photo: E-Solutions Professionals

E-Solution Professionals (ESP) has developed technology that allows vehicle users to calculate tire tread depth by using their smartphone camera.

The Monocular Tread Depth Reader possesses accurate depth perception which traditionally requires more than one camera. The ESP technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) and modern machine learning to create neural networks that enable it to calculate the depth from a single camera lens.

The Monocular Tread Depth Reader was developed with help from Precision Automotive Equipment Australia and Hunter Engineering’s Quick Tread Edge drive-over scanner with an integrated LPR camera. It has been extensively tested at a Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia workshop.

A simple test

Taran Marley, Head of ESP’s AI division, Tirelabs, said the aim was to make it as simple as possible for people to test the tread depth of their tires, and to encourage them to visit their local tire shop and replace tires before their tread becomes dangerously low.

“We did research where we asked people how they would know if their tires needed to be replaced,” Marley said. “At best, people would say that they would look at the tires and hazard a guess and they would take the vehicle to a tire shop if they were concerned.

“We also found people had a high resistance to calling into a tire store in person. They much preferred to go to the store’s online website. If the store did not have an online website, they would typically look for one that did. We decided there needed to be a way of using readily available technology to understand the efficacy of tires and engage the user with the tire store that would remedy any needs.”

The technology will also make maintenance tasks much easier and will have applications not just for ordinary motorists but for industry and fleet managers.

“It will mean being able to detect tire defects and low tread depth, and potentially – as we develop it – flat tires and bad alignment,” Marley said.

In May 2021, ESP will make its Monocular Read Depth Reader available commercially for use by tire wholesalers and dealers.

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