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Purdue researchers create a speed bump that detects damage

A team of researchers from Purdue University's Center for Systems Integrity created a high-tech "speed bump" that can detect damage to Army vehicles.

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A team of researchers from Purdue University's Center for Systems Integrity created a high-tech "speed bump" that can detect damage to Army vehicles.

Unlike the speed-deterring cement humps in the road that drivers typically encounter, Purdue's invention is a rubber-jacketed "diagnostic cleat" that contains sensors. The sensors measure vibrations created by a vehicle as it moves over the cleat, and signal-processing software interprets the data to check for damage to the tires, wheel bearings, and suspension components.

Researchers conducted tests with high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, or HMMWVs, commonly known as Humvees and found the system was able to detect damage to a vehicle's tires and the suspension with accuracy.

"The system was sensitive to as little as a 5 percent change in the stiffness of the suspension," said Douglas Adams, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Systems Integrity, in a press release.

The diagnostic speed bump can be used to reduce operating and maintenance costs for the Army, which accounted for about 60 percent of the $500 billion U.S. Department of Defense budget in 2006.

The system can also be applied to commercial and passenger vehicles.