Aston secures a KTP with RL Capital to extend their intelligent HGV Auto Align tyre and wheel offering to cars and vans

Led by a team of academics from Aston’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, technical expertise is to be used to extend the functionality of RL Capital’s AutoAlign, opening them up to a market 20x the size they currently operate in.

RL Capital (RLC) is an automotive technology company that develops intelligent tyre and wheel monitoring systems, reducing carbon and micro-particle vehicle emissions. RLC's strategy is to develop and commercialise a portfolio of novel automotive fault detection systems. The company has already developed and commercialised real-time tyre/wheel condition monitoring systems: TACscan (predictive tyre tread wear) and TyreWatch (commercial vehicle tyre pressure monitoring). The company has an ongoing technology partnership with McLaren Applied for TyreWatch.

RLC are now developing AutoAlign, a wheel alignment fault detection system for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) funded via a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) project. The next step is to extend functionality of AutoAlign and KTP is the most appropriate approach to build on the outcomes of the SBRI project by allowing RLC to access Aston's expertise in signal processing, dynamics & MEMs and machine learning. Through the use of technical enterprise, academics from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Aston, will extend the functionality of AutoAlign HGV into AutoAlign for Cars & Vans. Joint work of the academics and the company will enable RLC to make a step change in its technology and accelerate RLC's skills in sensor design, signal processing and ML, which without the KTP could take several years to accumulate

Aston’s academic team will develop a novel, real-time wheel alignment fault detection system (AutoAlign for Cars & Vans) to deliver accurate fault detection of wheel misalignment, enabling drivers and fleet operators to reduce power consumption and minimise air pollution caused by excess exhaust emissions and tyre wear.

The KTP will be particularly challenging due to both the size and nature of the data. The scale will be a higher order of magnitude to the HGV solution requiring sophisticated Machine Learning (ML) techniques to handle TB worth of data. The academics will be challenged with de-noising/filtering the data to enable reinforcement learning and methods for assessing data noise for its potential value.

The partnership will strengthen Aston's profile in MEMs, sensor technologies and AI applications for Smart cities.

RL Capital’s CEO, Mark Longden says:

“We are delighted to partner with Aston University on this project which builds on our existing and long term relationship. Working on sustainability in the Automotive sector using IoT sensors, Big Data and Machine Learning is stimulating, rewarding and is at the forefront of real world technologies”

KTP brings strong team of academics who will work on addressing the challenge of achieving company’s long term aims. The team includes Dr Yu Jia a Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at Aston University and leads the Smart Microsystem Research Group whose expertise lies in signal processing & conditioning of data. Dr Jia will work alongside Dr Maria Chli whose core research is modelling and optimization of  complex systems through coupling techniques from the fields of multi-agent systems and ML.

Academic support will be provided by Dr George Vogiatzis who has extensive experience in applying constrained optimisation techniques, including Mixed Integer Programming in a variety of complex geometric problems. He has extensive experience of ML techniques including deep learning neural networks.

Dr Yu Jia stated:

“The successful outcome of this project will eventually result in a reduction in micro-particulate air pollution from the wheels of road cars, thus resulting in a cleaner environment, improvement to public health as well as reducing the vehicle on-cost from the reduced wear and tear.”

Once completed, this project will produce number of significant environmental benefits:

  • A recent survey by Protyre of 376K cars showed that 46% of cars had misaligned wheels. With AutoAlign this could be significantly reduced contributing to the Government’s Clean Air Strategy by decreasing CO2 & non-exhaust particulate emissions.
  • AutoAlign will enable drivers to cut overall annual release of tyre-related particulates by up to 5% and remove up to 25K tons of microplastics from the environment in the EU.
  • AutoAlign will also reduce exhaust emissions from lower fuel consumption and cut 540M tons of annual worldwide CO2 emissions from manufacture & subsequent disposal of up to 30M car tyres (CRR).
  • Additionally AutoAlign will encourage operators to proactively correct alignment and it is estimated that within 5 years an additional 4m alignment resets will be performed p.a in the UK generating up to 600 UK automotive jobs.

The project outcomes will be integrated into Aston's curriculum via e.g. teaching case studies developing well equipped graduates.

Expected project finish date: 2022

This project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a UK-wide programme that has been helping businesses for the past 45 years to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base. 

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email rke@aston.ac.uk or call 0121 204 4242

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