31 January 2008—In an effort to prevent rollover accidents, new cars sold in the United States must be outfitted with electronic tire-pressure sensors that warn the driver when tires are going flat. But the battery-powered initial version of the technology is less than ideal. The batteries may work fine at first but are subject to extreme heat, cold, and shock that will likely lead to several battery changes over the lifetime of the car. Replacing them could prove costly, because the sensors are sealed and must be replaced with the batteries. A consortium of tire and auto suppliers hopes to cut that cost. It’s testing sensors that can be mounted on the wheel or even embedded in the tires themselves that needs no battery and can radio pressure data from the tire to electronics inside the car. The secret is a cheap coin-size device called a ”PZT bimorph” that harvests energy from the tire’s vibration via a miniature piezoelectric springboard.

The tire makers are depending on a small start-up company, EoPlex Technologies, in Redwood City, Calif., which has tuned its three-dimensional printing technology to construct the complex devices on the cheap. If the new power source passes its multiyear tests, carmakers may start to install other wireless components that will cut back on the kilometers of wiring in today’s cars.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less