GE NovaSensor, a unit of GE Industrial Systems, Fremont, Calif.(, developed a low-cost tire-pressure sensor that meets the requirements of U.S. Congressional Tread (Tire Recall Enhanced Accountability and Documentation) Act. Prompted by fatal rollover accidents, the Act mandates vehicle manufacturers develop technology to warn drivers of dangerously low tire pressures. It also requires automotive suppliers to start offering remote tire-pressure monitoring systems in late 2003 with a four-year phase-in period. Eventually all autos sold in the U.S. must incorporate these systems.

The GE NPX sensor system places a pressure-sensor module in each car tire. A radio-frequency link beams sensor data to a dashboard display. The NPX combines a sensor and the compensating electronics, making it more compact with fewer redundant components than existing devices. Software turns off the sensor to conserve power and extend battery life. The NPX comes as a fully calibrated and programmed pressure transducer to which the auto supplier adds software, a battery, and a transmitter chip. GE will incorporate customer-specific software on board to provide programming that controls inputs, manages the operation, and specifies the data-output format.