Tesla has filed a patent application for its own new design of an automatic tire inflation system, which appears to be geared for the Tesla Semi electric truck.

Many military vehicles and heavy machinery use Automatic Tire Inflation Systems (ATIS) in order to manage tire pressure and optimize driving on different surfaces.

Based on a new patent application published this week, Tesla is working on its own automatic tire inflation system, which appears to be designed for Tesla Semi.

In the application, Tesla describes “shortcomings” of existing systems:

“These prior solutions had a number of shortcomings. With some prior art techniques, air was fed through hollow drive axles to a fitting located on the end thereof. The fitting was then coupled to the air inlets of the tires. To couple the air into the hollow drive axles, a rotatingly attached fitting coupled air from an air storage to the inside of the hollow axles. This fitting was subject to leakage of contaminants. These contaminants interfered with the operation of the ATIS and eventually caused the ATIS to fail.”

In order to overcome those shortcomings, Tesla instead describes a more intelligent system with valves, bearings, and a rotary air seal.

The automaker wrote in the patent application:

“An Automatic Tire Inflation System (ATIS) for use with a vehicle according to a first described embodiment includes a controller, valves controlled by the controller, the valves having an air supply inlet, and a plurality of air outlets. Further the ATIS includes, for at least one drive axle having inner bearings and outer bearings, a channel formed in a spindle, first hosing coupling a valve of the valves controlled by the controller to the channel formed in the spindle, a channel formed in a hub, a rotary 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 second hosing coupling the channel formed in the hub to at least one wheel.

Thus, as compared to the prior ATIS systems, the ATIS of the first embodiment, significantly reduces contamination in the ATIS air stream. Reduction in contamination extends the life of the ATIS, extends spindle life, extends hub life, and extends serviced wheel/tire lives and extends maintenance intervals.”

Here are a few drawings from the full patent application:

While Tesla doesn’t specify if it will be designed for cars or trucks in the patent application, the inventor listed on the filing, John Furtado, has been working on the Tesla Semi program for Tesla.

According to his LinkedIn, Furtado was a Sr. Mechanical Design Engineer on the Chassis Dynamics Engineering team of the Tesla Semi.

He says he was the “Integration lead for brakes, brake controls, pneumatics, wheel ends, wheels and tires.”

The engineer left Tesla last month, but not before being credited as the inventor of Tesla’s own automatic tire inflation system.

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