Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system to allow the wheels of a car to think and act for themselves.
The 'smart' wheel, which is being developed by researchers at the University of Portsmouth in conjunction with UK company PML Flightlink, allows the wheels on a car to communicate with one another while performing thousands of calculations per second. As a result, the wheels think and learn as the car is being driven, making calculations and adjustments according to travelling speed and road conditions.
"Conventional wisdom says you can't reinvent the wheel. We have done just that," said Dr David Brown of the University of Portsmouth's Institute of Industrial Research.
"We have taken the wheel, given it brains and the ability to think and learn. It's a huge breakthrough,"
It is the first time artificial intelligence has replaced fundamental mechanics within a motor vehicle.
The team believe that the technology will mean tighter control, a smoother and safer ride while still allowing the driver to have control of the car.
The artificial intelligence will control the suspension, steering and breaking systems of the car and will teach itself to adapt to bends in the road, potholes and other potential hazards, and compensating by adjusting the car's reactions. The information is retained in the computer's memory and used the next time the car encounters similar road conditions.
"Traditional suspension means the vehicle dips when the wheels detect poor road surfaces and you get a bumpy ride, while a tight corner means the drag will slow the vehicle down. Electronic traction control and suspension will counterbalance this kind of drop and drag effect but the driver won't even know it's there," said Brown.
It means a faster car but a safer one."