(19)
(11)EP 3 145 734 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
26.06.2019 Bulletin 2019/26

(21)Application number: 15718465.6

(22)Date of filing:  10.04.2015
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B60C 23/00(2006.01)
B60C 23/04(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/EP2015/057897
(87)International publication number:
WO 2015/176870 (26.11.2015 Gazette  2015/47)

(54)

CENTRAL TYRE INFLATION SYSTEM

ZENTRALES REIFENFÜLLSYSTEM

SYSTÈME CENTRALISÉ DE GONFLAGE DE PNEU


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 20.05.2014 GB 201408920

(43)Date of publication of application:
29.03.2017 Bulletin 2017/13

(73)Proprietor: Jaguar Land Rover Limited
Coventry, Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)

(72)Inventors:
  • KING, Paul
    Coventry Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)
  • DUNNING, Emma-Claire
    Coventry Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)
  • LESBIREL, Robbie
    Coventry Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)
  • DODU, Maelle
    Coventry Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)
  • TRAN, Thuy-Yung
    Coventry Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)
  • LÄÄNEMETS, Laur
    Coventry Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)
  • WOODLEY, Jonathan
    Coventry Warwickshire CV3 4LF (GB)

(74)Representative: Holmes, Matthew William et al
Jaguar Land Rover Patent Department W/1/073 Abbey Road Whitley
Coventry CV3 4LF
Coventry CV3 4LF (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 0 137 932
US-A1- 2013 325 261
EP-A2- 0 344 002
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD



    [0001] The present invention relates to a processor for controlling operation of a central tyre inflation system (CTIS) to change a tyre pressure of a tyre of a vehicle; to an electronic control unit (ECU); to a CTIS; to a vehicle; to a method; and to a computer program product.

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



    [0002] Central tyre inflation systems (CTIS) were originally developed for military applications, in particular for military applications concerning off-road military wheeled trucks and trailers. However, CTIS are nowadays incorporated into non-military vehicles such as specialist construction equipment and some agricultural vehicles.

    [0003] A CTIS typically comprises a compressed air source located on-board the vehicle and connected to one or more tyres. Tyre pressure can therefore be adjusted by operating the CTIS. The CTIS delivers compressed air to tyre supply lines. In some examples, the supply lines are integrated into the vehicle axles. Various valves are provided in the CTIS to control flow of compressed air.

    [0004] US Publication No. US 2013/325261 A1 relates to a method for adjusting the pressure in pneumatic tires, in particular in pneumatic tires of an agricultural vehicle.

    [0005] EP Publication No. EP 0344002 A2 relates to a method for indicating slower than acceptable system response in an on-board central tire inflation system of the type having a plurality of selectable operating settings (i.e. levels) of the inflation pressurisation.

    [0006] EP Publication No. EP 0137932 relates to pressure control systems and, more particularly, to systems for controlling the fluid pressure, including air pressure, of fluid-filled apparatus in accordance with a desired fluid pressure.

    [0007] At least in certain embodiments, the present invention aims to solve, or at least mitigate, at least a problem that can be identified in the prior art, and/or to provide an improved CTIS and/or CTIS control strategy compared to the prior art.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0008] Aspects of the present invention relate to a processor for controlling operation of a central tyre inflation system (CTIS) to change a tyre pressure of a tyre of a vehicle; to an electronic control unit (ECU); to a CTIS; to a vehicle; to a method; and to a computer program product.

    [0009] According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a processor for controlling operation of a central tyre inflation system to change a pressure of a tyre of a vehicle to a target tyre pressure, characterised in that the processor has an input for receiving a signal indicative of a request to change the pressure of said tyre, wherein the processor is configured:

    to determine the target tyre pressure in dependence on said signal;

    to control the central tyre inflation system to inflate said tyre to a predetermined interim tyre pressure, said interim tyre pressure being higher than the target tyre pressure for said tyre; and

    to control the central tyre inflation system to deflate said tyre from the interim tyre pressure to the target tyre pressure. As the interim tyre pressure is higher than the target tyre pressure, the processor can control the CTIS to deflate the tyre to achieve the target tyre pressure. When inflating the tyre, the need to perform multiple inflation processes can be obviated, at least in certain embodiments. The inflation strategy described herein allows the target tyre pressure to be achieved while avoiding unnecessary activation or repeated activation of a compressor. In particular, tyre inflation to the target tyre pressure would require a repeated activation of the compressor if the target tyre pressure has been undershot.



    [0010] The processor can be configured to receive a signal representative of a measured first tyre pressure, the inflation of said tyre to said interim tyre pressure being based on said first tyre pressure. The first tyre pressure can correspond to an initial tyre pressure before inflation to the interim tyre pressure. The first tyre pressure can be used to control the inflation of said tyre to said interim tyre pressure. For example, based on said first tyre pressure, the processor can control the time period over which compressed air is supplied to the tyre.

    [0011] The processor can be configured to receive a signal representative of a measured second tyre pressure. The second tyre pressure can correspond to the tyre pressure after the tyre has been inflated to said interim tyre pressure. The second tyre pressure should be substantially equal to the interim tyre pressure, but system losses or inefficiencies may result in discrepancies. The second tyre pressure can be used to control the deflation of said tyre from said interim tyre pressure to said target tyre pressure. For example, based on said second tyre pressure, the processor can control the time period over which compressed air is vented from the tyre to achieve the target tyre pressure.

    [0012] The processor can be configured to receive a signal representative of a measured third tyre pressure. The third tyre pressure can correspond to the tyre pressure after the tyre has been deflated from said interim tyre pressure to said target tyre pressure. Further inflation/deflation of the tyre can be performed at this stage to achieve the target tyre pressure.

    [0013] In use, the processor can receive the pressure measurement signals from a pressure sensor disposed within the tyre. Alternatively, the pressure measurement signals can be received from a pressure sensor provided in fluid communication with an interior of the tyre. The pressure sensor can, for example, be provided in a valve block.

    [0014] The processor can determine the interim tyre pressure using an algorithm; or can retrieve the interim tyre pressure from a look-up table or the like.

    [0015] The interim tyre pressure can, for example, be greater than or equal to 1%, 2%, 3%, 5% or 10% higher than said target tyre pressure. The processor can be configured to receive a signal representative of a current tyre pressure. Said signal can be generated by a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), or it can be generated by a pressure sensor.

    [0016] The tyre pressure can be measured before and/or after the CTIS has inflated or deflated said tyre. The processor can be configured to control the CTIS to deflate said tyre from said interim tyre pressure to said target tyre pressure. The deflation of the tyre can be controlled depending on the differential between said interim tyre pressure and said target tyre pressure.

    [0017] In some embodiments, the processor can be configured to control the central tyre inflation system to inflate said tyre for a predetermined tyre inflation time to reach said predetermined interim tyre pressure. Said predetermined tyre inflation time can be stored as a value, or represented by a value, in a look-up table. Said look-up table can be stored in one or more memory means. Said one or more memory means can be operably accessible or connected to said processor. Said look-up table can be statically or dynamically indexed. When statically indexed, said look-up table can be a double-entry table with the values stored therein accessed on the basis of two indexes. One index can correspond to the current tyre pressure and the other index can correspond to the target tyre pressure. When dynamically indexed, said indexes can change or be reassigned on the basis of one or more parameters such as tyre temperature. The values stored in the look-up table can be static, or they can be regenerated or modified based on a self-learning algorithm.

    [0018] In some embodiments, the processor can be configured to control the central tyre inflation system to deflate said tyre for a predetermined tyre deflation time to reach said target tyre pressure from said interim tyre pressure. Said predetermined tyre deflation time can be stored as a value in a look-up table. Alternatively, the look-up table can contain values representative of said tyre deflation times. Said look-up table can be as described herein.

    [0019] The processor can be operatively coupled to one or more memory means storing values representative of said tyre inflation time and/or said tyre deflation time.

    [0020] In some embodiments, the processor can be configured to generate a signal for activating a first compressed air source, such as a compressed air reservoir or a compressor, as described herein. The compressor can be activated for the predetermined tyre inflation time. Alternatively, a first inlet valve as described herein can be opened for the predetermined tyre inflation time. Other compressed air sources could be used. Said compressed air sources can be part of the CTIS, or can be external.

    [0021] To inflate said tyre, the processor can be configured to generate a control signal for controlling operation of a compressor; and/or a control signal for controlling one or more valves to supply compressed air from a compressed air source, and/or wherein, to deflate said tyre, the processor can be configured to generate a control signal for controlling one or more valves to vent air from the tyre.

    [0022] It is recognised that the CTIS may be more prone to air losses over its life, for example due to a reduction in the efficacy of seals and/or valves. The processor can be configured to determine said interim tyre pressure based on an age of the central tyre inflation system, or on a historical usage of the central tyre inflation system. The processor could, for example, apply a modifier to a predefined interim tyre pressure based on the historical usage and/or age of the CTIS. The historical usage could be based on the total number of valve operations and/or inflation cycles and/or deflation cycles. A relatively high interim tyre pressure (for example 10% above the target tyre pressure) could be set if the historical usage is high to reflect a relatively low system integrity. Conversely, a relatively low interim tyre pressure (for example 2% above the target tyre pressure) could be set if the historical usage is low to reflect a relatively high system integrity. Alternatively, the CTIS could be operated periodically to perform a system integrity check and to set the interim tyre pressure based on the results of the most recent system integrity check. The processor can be configured to calculate said interim tyre pressure; or to retrieve said interim tyre pressure from a database.

    [0023] In some embodiments, the predetermined interim tyre pressure can correspond to a maximum predetermined tyre pressure calculated on the basis of a maximum loss of compressed air from said CTIS. Said maximum loss of compressed air can relate to tyre inflation or deflation of said tyre. Said maximum loss can be a predicted maximum loss of compressed air. Said predicted maximum loss of compressed air can relate to a worst-case scenario. Said worst-case scenario can relate to a maximum age of the CTIS and/or the vehicle. Said worst-case scenario can relate to a cumulative level of usage in time of the vehicle and/or the CTIS (for example, vehicle mileage).

    [0024] More generally, said predetermined tyre pressure can depend on an age, or on a cumulative level of usage in time, of the CTIS.

    [0025] Said maximum predetermined tyre pressure, said age or said cumulative level of usage in time can each refer to an individual rotary coupling disposed along a tyre supply line serving said tyre. Said air supply line can be part of said first and/or second air paths.

    [0026] According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided an electronic control unit (ECU) for controlling a central tyre inflation system, said electronic control unit comprising a processor as described herein. Aspects of the present invention also relate to a central tyre inflation system comprising a processor as described herein, or the ECU as described herein. The central tyre inflation system can comprise a pneumatic control valve for controlling flow of compressed air to and from said tyre.

    [0027] According to a still further aspect of the present invention there is provided a vehicle comprising a central tyre inflation system as described herein.

    [0028] According to a yet further aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of changing a tyre pressure of a tyre of a vehicle characterised in that the method comprises the steps of:

    receiving a signal indicative of a request to change the tyre pressure of said tyre;

    determining a target tyre pressure in dependence on said signal;

    using a central tyre inflation system, inflating said tyre to a predetermined interim tyre pressure, said predetermined interim tyre pressure being higher than the target tyre pressure for said tyre; and

    using the central tyre inflation system, deflating said tyre from the interim tyre pressure to the target tyre pressure.



    [0029] The method can include measuring a first tyre pressure before the tyre is inflated to said interim tyre pressure. The inflation of the tyre to said interim tyre pressure can be controlled based on said first tyre pressure. For example, the time period during which the tyre is inflated to achieve said interim tyre pressure can be based on said first tyre pressure.

    [0030] The method can include measuring a second tyre pressure after the tyre is inflated to said interim tyre pressure. The second tyre pressure should be substantially equal to the interim tyre pressure, but system losses or inefficiencies may result in discrepancies. The deflation of the tyre from said interim tyre pressure to said target tyre pressure can be controlled based on said second tyre pressure.

    [0031] The method can include measuring a third tyre pressure after the tyre is deflated to said target tyre pressure. Further inflation/deflation of the tyre can be performed at this stage to achieve the target tyre pressure.

    [0032] Aspects of the present invention also relate to a computer program product comprising a computer readable storage medium including computer readable program code, wherein the computer readable program code when executed causes a processor to implement the method described herein.

    [0033] As used throughout the application, the singular form of "a", "an" and "the" may include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

    [0034] For the avoidance of doubt, references herein to a central tyre inflation system (CTIS) are to an apparatus for controlling the pressure of one or more tyres.

    [0035] Within the scope of this application it is expressly intended that the various aspects, embodiments, examples and alternatives set out in the preceding paragraphs, in the claims and/or in the following description and drawings, and in particular the individual features thereof, may be taken independently or in any combination. Features described in connection with one embodiment are applicable to all embodiments, unless such features are incompatible.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0036] One or more embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying Figures, in which:

    Figure 1A is a schematic representation of a central tyre inflation system (CTIS) according to an embodiment of the invention;

    Figure 1B is a schematic representation of a valve arrangement of the CTIS shown in Figure 1A;

    Figure 1C is a vehicle system boundary diagram representing the CTIS shown in Figures 1A and 1B;

    Figure 2 is a high level block diagram illustrating the operation of the CTIS described herein;

    Figure 3 is a block diagram illustrating a target tyre pressure setting strategy implemented by the CTIS described herein;

    Figure 4 is a block diagram illustrating a target tyre pressure maintaining strategy implemented by the CTIS described herein;

    Figure 5 is a block diagram illustrating in detail a tyre deflation strategy implemented by the CTIS described herein;

    Figure 6 is a block diagram illustrating in detail a tyre inflation strategy implemented by the CTIS described herein;

    Figure 7 is a block diagram illustrating in detail an alternative tyre deflation strategy implemented by the CTIS described herein;

    Figure 8 is a table showing the status of the valves of the CTIS described herein through a tyre deflation cycle involving simultaneous deflation of all four tyres;

    Figure 9 is a table showing the status of the valves of the CTIS described herein through a tyre deflation cycle involving one tyre at a time;

    Figure 10 is a table showing the status of the valves of the CTIS described herein through a tyre inflation cycle which switches the tyre pressures from those relating to an off road driving mode to those relating to an on road driving mode;

    Figure 11 is a table showing the status of the valves of the CTIS described herein through a tyre inflation cycle involving one tyre at a time;

    Figure 12 is a table showing an estimated annual valve usage for the valves of the CTIS described herein;

    Figure 13 is a series of graphs showing: a) the pressure measured by a tyre pressure monitoring sensor; and b) the status (open = 1; closed = 0) of the valves of the CTIS described herein, through part of a tyre deflation cycle concerning the rear axle;

    Figure 14 is a series of graphs showing: a) the pressure measured by a tyre pressure monitoring sensor; and b) the status (open = 1; closed = 0) of the valves of the CTIS described herein, through another part of the tyre deflation cycle referred to in Figure 13;

    Figure 15 is a group of graphs showing: a) the pressure measured by a tyre pressure monitoring sensor; and b) the status (open = 1; closed = 0) of the valves of the CTIS described herein, through part of a tyre inflation cycle concerning the rear axle; and

    Figure 16 is a group of graphs showing: a) the pressure measured by a tyre pressure monitoring sensor; and b) the status (open = 1; closed = 0) of the valves of the CTIS described herein, through another part of the tyre inflation cycle referred to in Figure 15.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT



    [0037] In the following description and in the drawings, reference letters are used to collectively or un-specifically identify equivalent or essentially equivalent components. Where necessary, a specific component in a collection of equivalent or essentially equivalent components is identified by suffixing a reference letters in subscript format.

    [0038] A central tyre inflation system (CTIS) 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying Figures. As shown schematically in Figure 1A, the CTIS 1 is installed in a vehicle VH having four wheels W each having a tyre T mounted on a wheel hub (not shown). The wheels W (and the tyres T) are identified herein based on their relative position on the vehicle VH, namely: front left (FL), front right (FR), rear left (RL) and rear right (RR). This nomenclature is employed to identify the components of the CTIS 1 associated with the respective tyres T. The front tyres TFR, TFL are mounted on a front axle and the rear wheels TRR, TRL are mounted on a rear axle of the vehicle.

    [0039] The CTIS 1 comprises four pneumatic control valves PCV fixedly mounted to the wheel hubs and arranged to control the supply of compressed air to and from a respective tyre cavity. The pneumatic control valves PCV are pneumatically operated in response to changes in the pressure in the associated tyre supply line TSL. Specifically, the pneumatic control valves PCV are operable to cycle sequentially (i.e. to toggle) between an open state and a closed state in response to the application of a pressure exceeding a valve activation pressure. The pneumatic control valves PCV are stable in both the open and closed state via a latching mechanism, i.e. they can each be considered as a pressure actuated bi-stable valve. Herein the application of air at a pressure and time sufficient to switch the valve from one state to its other state, i.e. from open to closed or from closed to open, is referred to as "toggling" the valve, and the application of said air in this manner is referred to as a high pressure (pneumatic) control signal. A suitable pneumatic control valve PCV for this application is available in the form of a pneumatic latching valve from Norgren Limited of PO Box 22, Eastern Avenue, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6SB, United Kingdom. UK Patent publication number GB 2516704 describes such pneumatic latching valves. It will be appreciated that each pneumatic control valve could have additional operating states which are cycled through sequentially in dependence on said pneumatic control signal.

    [0040] The CTIS 1 further comprises a valve block 3 for controlling the supply of compressed air to each of the pneumatic control valves PCV. The valve block 3 is fluidly coupled to a first compressed air source 5 and a second compressed air source 7. The first compressed air source 5 provides air at a high flow rate and low pressure (HF/LP); and the second compressed air source 7 is operable to provide air at a higher pressure. As described herein, the first and second compressed air sources 5, 7 are distinct from each other. In the present embodiment, the first compressed air source 5 comprises a first compressor 9; and the second compressed air source 7 comprises a second compressor 11 and a reservoir 13.

    [0041] The activation pressure of each said pneumatic control valve PCV is below the pressure of the second compressed air source 7. In this manner the second compressed air source 7 can be applied for a short duration to switch one or more selected pneumatic control valves PCV from a closed state to an open state, and vice versa.

    [0042] An ECU 15 is provided to control operation of the CTIS 1. Specifically, the ECU 15 is configured to control operation of the valve block 3 and the first compressor 9. The second compressor 11 forms part of the vehicle air suspension and could be controlled indirectly by the ECU 15.

    [0043] A tyre supply line TSL is provided to supply compressed air from the valve block 3 to each tyre T. Specifically, the CTIS 1 comprises a front left tyre supply line TSLFL, a front right tyre supply line TSLFR, a rear left tyre supply line TSLRL and a rear right tyre supply line TSLRR. The pneumatic control valves PCV are provided at the ends of the tyre supply lines TSL to control the supply of compressed air to the respective tyres T. A section of each tyre supply line TSL extends along the respective vehicle axles to supply compressed air to the pneumatic control valves PCV mounted in each wheel hub. A rotary air coupling (RAC) is provided in each tyre supply line TSL to provide a fluid coupling to supply compressed air from the valve block 3 to the section of each tyre supply line TSL disposed in the vehicle axle.

    [0044] The valve block 3 will now be described in more detail with reference to Figure 1B. The valve block 3 comprises first and second inlet valves VINC, VINSS. The first inlet valve VINC operatively controls the supply of compressed air from the first compressed air source 5 which is connected to the valve block 3 by a first supply line 17. The second inlet valve VINSS operatively controls the supply of compressed air from the second compressed air source 7 which is connected to the valve block 3 by a second supply line 19.

    [0045] The valve block 3 comprises four outlet valves (collectively referenced as VO) for controlling the supply of compressed air to the respective tyre supply lines TSL. In particular, the valve block 3 comprises: a front left outlet valve VFLO for controlling the supply of compressed air to the front left tyre supply line TSLFL; a rear left outlet valve VRLO for controlling the supply of compressed air to the rear left tyre supply line TSLRL; a front right outlet valve VFRO for controlling the supply of compressed air to the front right tyre supply line TSLFR; and a rear right outlet valve VRRO for controlling the supply of compressed air to the rear right air supply line TSLRR. The outlet valves VO are operable independently of each other to enable the selective supply of compressed air to one or more of the tyre supply lines TSL.

    [0046] The valve block 3 also comprises first and second exhaust valves E1, E2 coupled to an exhaust line 21. The exhaust line 21 terminates with an exhaust outlet 23 which is open to atmosphere to vent exhaust air from the CTIS 1. The first and second exhaust valves E1, E2 are operable to control the flow of exhaust air to the exhaust line 21, for example during tyre deflation. A safety valve VSAFE is also provided in the valve block 3. The safety valve VSAFE is operable to vent to atmosphere any excess air which might accumulate in the valve block 3 due, for example, to malfunction of any of the components of the CTIS 1.

    [0047] The inlet valves VINC, VINSS, the outlet valves VO and the exhaust valves E1, E2 are solenoid valves having a normally-closed configuration (illustrated by a filled symbol in Figure 1B). The inlet valves VINC, VINSS, the outlet valves VO and the exhaust valves E1, E2 are operable independently of each other and are actuated by control signals received from the ECU 15. The safety valve VSAFE is also a solenoid valve but has a normally-open configuration (illustrated by an open symbol in Figure 1B). The safety valve VSAFE is closed by receiving a control signal from the ECU 15.

    [0048] The first compressor 9 is a dedicated compressor for the CTIS 1. The second compressor 11 forms part of an air suspension system (not shown).The first and second compressors 9, 11 are controlled, directly or indirectly, by the ECU 15. The first compressor 9 comprises an electric motor 27 and has an operating pressure of approximately 9 bar. A dryer unit 29 is coupled to the compressor 9 partway through a first compressed air supply line 31 connecting the first compressor 9 to the valve block 3. The air suspension system comprises pneumatic actuators (not shown) which connect the chassis (not shown) of the vehicle VH to the wheels W. The pneumatic actuators are operable to maintain the vehicle at a target ride height and optionally also to request ride height changes (for example to improve off-road performance or ease of access/loading). Compressed air at a pressure of up to 20 bar is stored in the reservoir 13.

    [0049] A fluid gallery 33 is provided in the valve block 3. The gallery 33 is open to each of: the outlet valves VO, the inlet valves VINC, VINSS, the exhaust valves E1, E2, and the safety valve VSAFE. The valve block 3 houses a pressure sensor 35 arranged to measure the pressure in a gallery 33. The gallery 33 can be selectively placed in fluid communication with one or more of the tyre supply lines TSL by opening one or more of the outlet valves VO. In the present embodiment, the pressure sensor 35 measures the pressure in the individual tyre supply lines TSL by placing the tyre supply line TSL in fluid communication with the gallery 33. By opening the pneumatic control valve PCV associated with that tyre supply line TSL, the pressure sensor 35 can measure the air pressure in the tyre cavity (hereinafter referred to, for simplicity, as the tyre pressure).

    [0050] The gallery 33 receives compressed air from each of said first and second compressed air sources 9, 11 via the respective first and second inlet valves VINC, VINSS. The first inlet valve VINC is operable to control the supply of compressed air from the first compressed air source 5 to the gallery 33. The second inlet valve VINSS is operable to control the supply of compressed air from the second compressed air source 7 to the gallery 33. In use, the first compressed air source 5 is the primary source of compressed air for inflating the tyres T. One or more of the tyre supply lines TSL can be placed in communication with the first compressed air source 5 by opening the first inlet valve VINC and the appropriate outlet valves VO. The second compressed air source 7 provides a higher pressure supply which is controlled by the second inlet valve VINSS to generate a pneumatic control signal as described above for controlling operation of one or more of said pneumatic control valves PCV to tyres for which the respective outlet valves VO are open, i.e. to toggle the valves from one stable state to the other stable state. Specifically, the second inlet valve VINSS is operated to generate the pneumatic control signal to cycle the pneumatic control valve(s) PCV in communication with the gallery 33. The pneumatic control valve(s) PCV cycle through their respective operating states in response to the pneumatic control signal and, therefore, can be operated to control the supply of compressed air to and from the respective tyres T. By opening the pneumatic control valve(s) PCV, one or more of the tyres T can be placed in communication with the respective tyre supply lines TSL. The valve block 3 can be operated to place the tyre supply lines TSL in communication with the first compressed air source 5 to inflate one or more of said tyres T; or in communication with the exhaust line 21 to deflate one or more of said tyres T. Furthermore, the valve block 3 can be operated to measure the pressure of the air in the tyres T.

    [0051] To measure an individual tyre pressure of a wheel having a closed PCV, the valve block 3 is operated to close the first and second inlet valves VINC, VINSS, and the exhaust valves E1, E2. The outlet valve VO corresponding to the tyre supply line TSL for the particular tyre is opened to place the tyre supply line TSL in fluid communication with the gallery 33. A pneumatic control signal is then generated by operating the second inlet valve VINSS to open the pneumatic control valve PCV for that tyre T. The tyre T is thereby placed in communication with the gallery 33 via the corresponding tyre supply line TSL. The pressure sensor 35 then measures the air pressure in the gallery 33 to determine the tyre pressure for that particular tyre T. Once the pressure has been measured, if no further action is required in relation to that tyre a pneumatic control signal may be generated by operating the second inlet valve VINSS to close the pneumatic control valve PCV.

    [0052] The CTIS 1 according to the present embodiment uses a single pressure sensor 35 for measuring the pressure in the gallery 33. It will be appreciated that more than one pressure sensor 35 could be provided. For example, a pressure sensor 35 could be provided in communication with each tyre supply line TSL. Equally, a separate valve block 3 could be provided for each tyre T or for each axle.

    [0053] The ECU 15 is programmed to control the overall operation of the CTIS 1. The ECU 15 is configured to determine an inflation time or a deflation time. The inflation time is the period of time over which compressed air must be supplied from the first compressed air source 5 to the one or more tyre(s) T to reach the target tyre pressure. The inflation time is a function of one or more of the following: the pressure differential between the target tyre pressure and the current tyre pressure (the current tyre pressure being the tyre pressure prior to inflation); the operating characteristics of the first compressed air source (e.g. nominal pressure and flow rate); the number of tyres T which are being inflated at any given time (if more than one tyre T can be inflated simultaneously); and the volume and/or temperature of the tyre cavities. It will be appreciated that is not necessarily equivalent to a compressor run time as the compressed air generated by the first compressor 9 is buffered in the first reservoir.

    [0054] The deflation time is the period of time over which compressed air must be vented from the one or more tyre(s) T through the first and second exhaust valves E1, E2 to reach the target tyre pressure. The deflation time is also a function of the number of tyres T being simultaneously deflated, of the current tyre pressure (i.e. the tyre pressure before deflation), of the target tyre pressure and/or the pressure differential to be achieved by tyre deflation and/or of the volume and/or temperature of the tyre cavities.

    [0055] In the present embodiment, the ECU 15 retrieves the inflation time and/or the deflation time from a look-up table stored in a memory device accessible to the ECU 15. The look-up table can take the form of a double entry table indexed according to the current tyre pressure and the target tyre pressure. Based on the current tyre pressure and the target tyre pressure, the ECU 15 can retrieve from the look-up table a value corresponding to, or representative of, the predetermined tyre inflation time for a given flow rate and air supply air pressure. Alternatively the look-up table may give a volume of air required and the ECU calculates the inflation time based on measured or estimated pressures and flow rates and the retrieved volumetric air requirement. Other methods may be useful.

    [0056] The ECU 15 controls tyre inflation and/or deflation by opening and closing, as appropriate, the various valves VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3. Tyre inflation and deflation can thus potentially be performed one tyre T at a time, or according to any combination of tyres T simultaneously. In the present embodiment, however, the ECU 15 is programmed to simultaneously deflate all the tyres T, or in pairs, and to inflate the tyres T one at a time or, simultaneously in pairs. If deflated/inflated in pairs, the pairs of tyres T are selected according to their location at the front or rear of the vehicle VH. In this event, the tyres T are said to be deflated/inflated by the CTIS 1 'per axle'.

    [0057] In the present embodiment, the ECU 15 uses an algorithm to refer the current and target tyre pressures to a nominal tyre temperature of 25°C and to the case of tyre inflation of an individual tyre T. Alternatively, different look-up tables each corresponding to a tyre temperature and/or to the case of tyre inflation for two or more tyres T could be used. Compressed air losses in the CTIS 1 may affect the period of time taken for the CTIS 1 to achieve a predetermined pressure. The values stored in the look-up table could be dynamically updated to take into account the effects of said losses. The values could, for example, be updated via one or more self-learning algorithms.

    [0058] The ECU 15 is in addition configured to provide information relating to the status and/or operation of the CTIS 1 to a vehicle user via a human-machine interface (HMI) 37. A dashboard (not shown) of the vehicle VH is in addition equipped with a visual output, for example a tyre operation dial 39, to provide a user with information as to whether compressed air is being supplied to, or exhausted from, the tyre cavities.

    [0059] Figure 1C illustrates the relationship between the main mechanical components of the CTIS 1 described herein (which incorporates the valve block 3 illustrated in Figure 1B) and a vehicle control system 41. The vehicle control system 41 comprises the ECU 15. The ECU 15 is programmed to implement the control strategies and procedures described herein. In this embodiment, the ECU 15 receives from a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) 43, via a vehicle controller area network (CAN) 45, real-time information relating to the current tyre pressures for the four tyres T of the vehicle VH. The pressure sensor communicates directly with the ECU 15 via electric signals representative of the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 in the gallery 33 of the valve block 3. As described earlier, the pneumatic control valves PCV and the various valves V, I, E of the valve block 3 can be configured such that the pressure sensor 35 measures a pressure which is representative of the pressure inside each of the tyres T. The TPMS 43 also monitors the temperature inside the tyres T so that the tyre pressures can be referred to a nominal temperature of 25 degrees C using appropriate algorithms, for example a thermocouple or other thermal sensor may be located in or through the hub of each wheel.

    [0060] The ECU 15 implements tyre inflation and/or deflation strategies as described herein on the basis of the relationship between the target tyre pressures and the current tyre pressures as measured by the TPMS 43 and/or pressure sensor 35. To do this, the ECU 15 is required to control the various mechanical components of the CTIS 1. As seen in Figure 1C, the ECU 15 is configured to control the outlet valves VO via a pulse width modulation (PWM) control network 47. Via the same PWM control network 47, the ECU 15 also controls the purging function of the dryer unit 29, the electric motor 27 which drives the compressor 9, the first and second inlet valves VINC, VINSS, the exhaust valves E1, E2 and the safety valve VSAFE. As described herein, the target tyre pressures can be manually selected by the driver of the vehicle via the human-to-machine interface (HMI) 37 or they can be automatically selected by the vehicle control system 41 on the basis of other information including vehicle driving modes. The HMI 37 communicates with the ECU 15 via the vehicle CAN 45. As an alternative to PWM control full cycle on/off solenoid valves could be used.

    [0061] A first block diagram 100 illustrating the operating modes of the CTIS 1 is show in Figure 2. The CTIS 1 is initially switched off (STEP 101). In the present embodiment, the CTIS 1 can be switched off by a vehicle user command and/or by switching off the engine of the vehicle VH (CONDITION 103). When the engine is started (CONDITION 105) the CTIS 1 carries out an initial system check (STEP 107). If the initial system check detects a preliminary fault (CONDITION 109), e.g. compressor malfunction, the CTIS 1 enters a System Fault Mode (STEP 111) and the vehicle user is informed accordingly. If the initial check is successful (CONDITION 113) the CTIS 1 is ready to be switched on. When the CTIS 1 is then switched on by a user command (CONDITION 115), the CTIS 1 performs a system start-up check (STEP 117) to check that the components of the CTIS 1 are correctly working together and therefore capable of delivering compressed air to the tyres T. If a fault is detected (CONDITION 119) the CTIS 1 enters the System Fault Mode (STEP 111) and the vehicle user is informed accordingly. If the check is successful (CONDITION 121) the CTIS 1 enters a Maintain Pressure Mode (STEP 123).

    [0062] In the Maintain Pressure Mode (STEP 123), the CTIS 1 operates to ensure that a target tyre pressure substantially equals a current tyre pressure (CONDITION 125) for each of the tyres T or for any selected tyre combination (e.g. for the rear axle tyres). If for any of the tyres T the target tyre pressure is greater than the current tyre pressure (CONDITION 127), the CTIS 1 switches to an Inflate Mode (STEP 129). On the basis of the pressure difference between the target and current tyre pressures, the ECU 15 retrieves an inflation time from a look-up table stored in a memory in the ECU 15.

    [0063] When the inflation time has elapsed (CONDITION 131) for each tyre T or for each combination of tyres being simultaneously inflated, the CTIS 1 returns to the Maintain Pressure Mode (STEP 123).

    [0064] If the current tyre pressure is greater than the target tyre pressure (CONDITION 133), the CTIS 1 enters a Deflate Mode (STEP 135). In the deflate mode, compressed air is vented from one or more tyres T simultaneously and routed via one or more of the tyre supply lines TSL to the valve block 3 and, from there, to atmosphere through the exhaust valves E1, E2, the exhaust outlet 23 and exhaust port 25. On the basis of the pressure difference between the target and current tyre pressures, the ECU 15 retrieves the deflation time from the look-up table stored in a memory in the ECU 15. When the current/actual tyre pressure reaches or substantially matches the target tyre pressure (CONDITION 137) the CTIS 1 returns to the Maintain Pressure Mode (STEP 123).

    [0065] If a fault develops during the Inflate Mode (STEP 129), or during the Deflate Mode (STEP 135), the CTIS 1 enters the System Fault Mode (STEP 111).

    [0066] The target tyre pressures can vary between different tyres T and for all the tyres T dependent on the vehicle driving mode. This will now be described with reference to a second block diagram 200 shown Figure 3. The second block diagram 200 illustrates the four main vehicle driving modes, namely: an Economy Mode (Step 201); an On Road Mode (STEP 203); an Off Road Mode (STEP 205) and a Recovery Mode (STEP 207) (listed in decreasing order of target tyre pressures). The Economy Mode (STEP 201) requires a target tyre pressure of 2.8 bar for the front tyres TFL, TFR and 3.0 bar for the rear tyres TRR, TRL. The On Road Mode (STEP 203) requires a target tyre pressure of 2.3 bar for the front tyres TFL, TFR and 2.5 bar for the rear tyres TRR, TRL. The Off Road Mode (STEP 205) requires a target tyre pressure of 1.5 bar both for the front and rear tyres TFL, TFR, TRR, TRL. The Recovery Mode (STEP 207) requires a target tyre pressure of 1.2 bar both for the front and rear tyres TFL, TFR, TRR, TRL. It will be apparent to the skilled person that these tyre pressures are exemplary only and that actual tyre pressures for different conditions will be dependent upon the specific tyres and/or other factors.

    [0067] When the vehicle switches from the Off Road Mode (STEP 205) to the On Road Mode (STEP 203), it is appropriate to inflate the tyres to achieve the target tyre pressure for the On Road Mode. The transition from the Off Road Mode (STEP 205) to the On Road Mode (203) can, for example, be performed automatically when the ECU 15 determines that the vehicle speed is greater than a reference threshold speed; or in dependence on a driver request. The ECU 15 enters an interim tyre inflation mode (STEP 209). The ECU 15 is configured to inflate the tyres T in two, distinct stages. The tyre inflation procedure is performed 'per axle'. In a first phase (STEP 211), the ECU 15 inflates both the front and rear tyres TFL, TFR, TRR, TRL from the current tyre pressures to an intermediate target tyre pressure of, for example 2.0 bar. In a second phase (STEP 213), the ECU 15 inflates both the front and rear tyres TFL, TFR, TRR, TRL from the intermediate target tyre pressure to the target tyre pressures of 2.3 bar for the front tyres TFL, TFR and 2.5 bar for the rear tyres TRR, TRL, as specified in the On Road Mode (STEP 203). In the described embodiment, the intermediate target tyre pressure has been set to 2.0 bar to satisfy a local legal requirement. However, other selection criteria for selecting the intermediate target tyre pressure could be used, in any case the intermediate pressure will be a pressure at which it is appropriate for the vehicle to be driven on a road. It will be appreciated that the tyres T could be inflated in more than two stages.

    [0068] In the present embodiment, the first phase (STEP 211) performed by the CTIS 1 requires less than one minute to inflate the tyres T from their current tyre pressure in the Off Road Mode (STEP 205) to the intermediate target tyre pressure of 2.0 bar and the second phase (STEP 213) takes longer than one minute to successively inflate the tyres T from the intermediate target tyre pressure of 2.0 bar to the target tyre pressures specified in the On Road Mode 51. The first phase (STEP 211) can be performed when the vehicle/vehicle VH is still off road, or when the vehicle VH is about to enter the road, followed by the second phase (STEP 213) which is performed subsequently, for example when the vehicle is on the road.

    [0069] A first recovery Mode (STEP 207) is activated to recover the vehicle VH, for example when a vehicle belly-out event occurs. A vehicle belly-out event refers to a situation in which the vehicle body is partially or completely supported by the ground under the vehicle instead of being supported by the tyres T. The Recovery Mode (STEP 207) can be activated automatically by the ECU 15; or by the driver of the vehicle. When the Recovery Mode (STEP 207) is activated, the vehicle verifies whether an adjustable ride height of the vehicle is in the highest position setting and if not the ECU controls the suspension to raise the vehicle and the CTIS 1 operates to reduce the pressure of the front tyres TFL, TFR and the rear tyres TRR, TRL. to, for example, 1.2 bar. The Recovery Mode (STEP 207) is only activated when the vehicle VH is in the Off Road Mode 205. By decreasing the tyre pressure a larger surface area of the tyre will come into contact with the ground that will increase traction between the wheel and the surface, thereby assisting in reducing wheel slip and moving the vehicle, and increasing the ride height will lift the vehicle body slightly to raise it of the ground.

    [0070] A second recovery mode is activated to recover the vehicle VH, for example when a vehicle becomes bogged down in sand or mud, i.e. the tyres are spinning and have dug into the surface, but prior to the vehicle bellying out. The second recovery mode can be activated automatically by the ECU 15; or by the driver of the vehicle. When the second recovery mode is activated, the CTIS 1 operates to reduce the pressure of the front tyres TFL, TFR and the rear tyres TRR, TRL. to, for example, 1.2 bar. The second recovery mode is only activated when the vehicle VH is in the Off Road Mode 205. By decreasing the tyre pressure a larger surface area of the tyre will come into contact with the ground that will increase traction between the wheel and the surface, thereby assisting in reducing wheel slip and moving the vehicle.

    [0071] The Economy Mode (STEP 201) can be selectively activated by the user, or automatically by the ECU 15, for example based on vehicle speed. When the Economy Mode (STEP 201) is activated, the CTIS 1 operates to increase the pressure of the front tyres TFL, TFR to, for example, 2.8 bar; and to the rear tyres TRR, TRL to, for example, 3.0 bar. The increase in tyre pressure can be performed in a single phase or multiple phases, for example to maintain the pressure differential between the front and rear tyre pressures within a predefined margin. The Economy Mode (STEP 201) can be activated only when the vehicle is in the On Road Mode (STEP 203).

    [0072] In the described embodiment, the Off Road Mode (STEP 205) needs to be manually requested by the driver. When the driver requests the Off Road Mode (STEP 205), the ECU 15 is programmed to deflate the tyres T to the target tyre pressure defined in the Off Road Mode (STEP 205). In the described embodiment, the tyre deflation from the On Road Mode (STEP 203) to the Off Road Mode (STEP 205) lasts approximately 2.5 minutes (i.e. it is comparatively slower than the tyre inflation procedure). The tyre deflation from the On Road Mode to the Off Road mode can be performed on all four tyres T at the same time.

    [0073] The target tyre pressures are set depending on the vehicle driving mode, as illustrated in Figure 3. The actual or current tyre pressure can be measured by the pressure sensor 35 coupled to the gallery 33 disposed in the valve block 3. Alternatively and/or additionally, the actual or current tyre pressure is measured by a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) 43 provided on the vehicle VH (as shown in Figure 1C). The TPMS 43 is responsible for providing the vehicle control system 9 with continuous information on the current tyre pressures. The pressure sensor 35 is used to check the tyre pressures after tyre inflation and/or deflation. The TPMS 43 communicates wirelessly with a sensor provided in each tyre T.

    [0074] Depending on the relationship between the target and current tyre pressures, the ECU 15 may be configured to implement inflation and deflation strategies to try to maintain the current tyre pressure as close as possible to, or equal to, the target tyre pressures. A third block diagram 300 in Figure 4 illustrates in more detail the strategy for maintaining the target tyre pressures. Alternatively, or in addition, the present control strategy may be used for increasing and decreasing pressure in response to driver commands for different operating modes without the need to continuously attempt to maintain the pressure.

    [0075] The TPMS 43 operates to measure the pressure of each tyre T (STEP 301). A comparison is made between the measured (actual) tyre pressure and a target tyre pressure (STEP 303). If the target tyre pressures for one or more of the tyres T exceed the current tyre pressure and the difference between the target tyre pressures and the current tyre pressures is greater than a predetermined reference pressure difference threshold (CONDITION 305), the ECU 15 is programmed to implement an Inflate Per Axle strategy (STEP 307). On the basis of the pressure difference between the target and current tyre pressures, the ECU 15 first retrieves from memory the inflation time required to inflate each of the tyres TFL, TFR, TRR, TRL as shown in Figure 4. Then, the ECU 15 controls the valve block 3 to inflate the tyres of the rear axle TRR, TRL. Once the rear tyres TRR, TRL have been inflated, the ECU 15 controls the valve block 3 to inflate the tyres of the front axle TFL, TFR. If there is a pressure difference discrepancy between right TFR, TRR and left tyres TFL, TRL the corresponding right VFR, VRR and left VFL, VRL outlet valves can be opened for different time periods to compensate for such a discrepancy.

    [0076] By using this staggered tyre inflation strategy, the dynamic stability or handling balance of the vehicle 2 can be preserved during the tyre inflation procedure. By inflating the tyres of the rear axle TRR, TRL followed by the tyres of the front axle TFL, TFR, the handling characteristics of the vehicle VH can be biased towards understeer (rather than oversteer). In a driving experience ideally the user does not experience a change in driving dynamics, i.e. the manner in which the vehicle responds to the same input commands (e.g. steering wheel angle and throttle position). However driving dynamic is related to tyre pressures and changing these dynamically while the vehicle is moving may affect driving dynamics. In order to minimise any perceived change to the driver the change is biased towards understeer during the change as an experience of understeer is less likely to cause the driver to experience a feeling of loss of composure of the vehicle than a bias towards overseer.

    [0077] If the current tyre pressure exceeds the target tyre pressure and the difference between the current tyre pressure and the target tyre pressure is less than a predetermined reference pressure difference threshold (CONDITION 309), the CTIS 1 enters into a Deflate All Tyres at Once mode (STEP 311). A deflate all tyres at once strategy is described below with reference to Figure 5.

    [0078] If the current tyre pressure exceeds the target tyre pressure and the difference between the current tyre pressure and the target tyre pressure is greater than a predetermined reference pressure difference threshold and the vehicle operating mode is set on On Road Mode 51 (CONDITION 313), the ECU 15 is programmed to enter the CTIS 1 into a Deflate Per Axle strategy (STEP 315). A reverse staggered deflation logic is then applied by the CTIS 1 compared to the staggered Inflation Per Axle (STEP 307) described above. The front axle tyres TFL, TFR are first deflated to the required target pressure and the rear axle tyres TRR, TRL are deflated subsequently until the required target pressure is reached. This is done in order to maintain dynamic vehicle stability as explained above to bias any change in vehicle handling towards understeer rather than oversteer.

    [0079] A fourth block diagram 400 shown in Figure 5 illustrates in more detail the Deflate All Tyres at Once strategy (STEP 311) illustrated in Figure 4. When the CTIS 1 enters the Deflate All Tyres at Once strategy (STEP 311), the ECU 15 outputs a first signal S1 to start a Deflate strategy (MODE 401). The outlet valves VO are opened (STEP 403) and the second inlet valve VINSS is toggled (i.e. opened and closed) so that the second compressed air source 7 generates a pneumatic control signal to open the pneumatic control valves PCV. The exhaust valves E1, E2 are then opened (STEP 407) and tyre deflation commences. After a predetermined time period (retrieved by the ECU 15 from the look-up table stored in memory), the outlet valves VO are closed (STEP 409). The outlet valves VO may be closed on an individually timed basis to achieve the desired opening time of each outlet valve VO. The ECU 15 produces a signal which causes the CTIS 1 to enter a Measure procedure (STEP 411).

    [0080] In the Measure procedure (MODE 411), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed (STEP 415) and the outlet valves VO are opened individually, i.e. one at a time (STEP 413). The first one of the outlet valves VO may be opened substantially at the same time as the exhaust valves are closed, or alternatively the exhaust valves may be closed prior to opening any of the outlet valves. The pressure sensor 35 measures the pressure in the gallery 33, which is representative of the tyre pressure of the tyre T being measured (STEP 417). If, for any of the tyres T, the measured tyre pressure is greater than the target pressure (CONDITION 419), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are opened (STEP 421). Since the pneumatic control valve PCV corresponding to the tyre being measured is still in the open position, compressed air is vented from the CTIS 1 and the relevant tyre T is deflated further until measured tyre pressure matches the target pressure. The procedure is repeated for the other three tyres T, until the tyre pressure of each of the four tyres T matches the respective target pressure. Optionally tyres on one axel may be measured/further deflated before moving on to the other axle. Before a tyre pressure measurement for another tyre T is taken, however, the outlet valve VO relating to the tyre being measured is closed.. The target tyre pressure for the front tyres TFL, TFR and the rear tyres TRR, TRL tyres can be the same (as in the case of the Off Road Mode 205) or can be different (as in the case of the Economy Mode 203). When the target tyre pressure has been reached for all of the tyres T, a strategy is implemented to close the pneumatic control valves PCV (MODE 423) is initiated by the ECU 15.

    [0081] To close the pneumatic control valves PCV, a pneumatic control signal is generated by the second compressed air source 7 to cause the pneumatic control valves PCV to close for each tyre T. This is achieved by toggling the LF/HP inlet valve VINSS (STEP 425). The exhaust valves E1, E2 are then also toggled, i.e. opened and then subsequently closed, to vent the air still present in the relevant tyre supply line TSL to restore atmospheric pressure in this tyre supply line TSL (STEP 427). The pressure sensor 35 can then measure a pressure in the gallery 33 representative of the pressure in this tyre supply line TSL to check that the pneumatic control valve PCV associated with each tyre has been successfully closed (STEP 429). If the latching is successful, the pressure sensor 35 measures a pressure equal to, or approximately equal to, atmospheric pressure. If latching is not successful (CONDITION 431), the latching procedure is repeated. If the latching has been successful, the relevant outlet valve VO is closed to isolate the respective tyre supply line TSL. The procedure is later repeated for each of the remaining outlet valves VO of the valve block 3 (STEP 433), after the tyre pressure of each of the tyres T has been measured according to the Measure procedure (MODE 411).

    [0082] It will be appreciated that the second inlet valve VINSS can be controlled to generate a pneumatic control signal for actuating a single pneumatic control valve PCV or for actuating a plurality of said pneumatic control valves PCV simultaneously. The outlet valve(s) VO can be opened or closed to communicate the pneumatic control signal along the appropriate tyre supply lines TSL to control said one or more pneumatic control valves PCV. By controlling several pneumatic control valves PCV at the same time (for example to open or close them in unison), a time saving may be achieved.

    [0083] When all the tyres have reached the target tyre pressure and all the pneumatic control valves PCV have been latched, the exhaust valves E1, E2 are opened (STEP 435).

    [0084] A fifth block diagram 500 is shown in Figure 6 to illustrate the Inflate Per Axle strategy (STEP 307) illustrated in Figure 4. The ECU 15 generates a second signal S2 to initiate the Inflate mode (STEP 501) to inflate the tyres T on each axle in sequence. As outlined herein, the tyres T on the rear axle are inflated first, and then the tyres T on the front axle are inflated. The first inlet valve VINC is opened and the compressor 9 is activated (STEP 505). The airflow from the compressor 9 is estimated based on the current/voltage drawn by the compressor 9 (which indicates the work done compressing the air) optionally together with pressure/temperature information (which approximates the density of air drawn into the compressor 9). A performance table for the compressor 9 is typically available from the supplier to enable the airflow to be estimated. As the tyre pressure rises, the compressor 9 will be working against a higher pressure so the flow rate of air delivered to the tyre supply line will change dynamically.

    [0085] The ECU 15 accesses the stored look-up table to determine the inflation time for each outlet valve (the front outlet valves VFL, VFR or rear outlet valves VRL, VRR). The relevant outlet valves VO (the front outlet valves VFL, VFR; or the rear outlet valves VRL, VRR) are then opened (STEP 507). The second inlet valve VINSS is controlled to toggle the pneumatic control valves PCV for the tyres T to an open position (if they are not already in an open state). It will be appreciated that the second inlet valve VINSS can be controlled to generate a pneumatic control signal for controlling more than one pneumatic control valve PCV simultaneously when the corresponding outlet valves VO are open. The outlet valves VO are closed when the compressed air has been delivered to achieve the target pressure (STEP 509). At this stage, the first inlet valve VINC is also closed, and the dryer unit 29 may optionally be purged from water removed from the delivered compressed air (STEP 511).

    [0086] When all the tyres T have been inflated, i.e. when the Inflate mode (STEP 501) has been repeated for the other axle (CONDITION 513), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are opened to purge excess compressed air from the valve block 3 (STEP 513) so that the Measure mode (STEP 515) can be performed. The pneumatic control valves PCV for all of the tyres T are then closed (STEP 517). These procedures are unchanged from those described herein with reference to Figure 5 for each of the tyres T in anticlockwise sequence. When the target tyre pressure for all the tyres T has been reached and all the pneumatic control valves PCV have been closed (CONDITION 519), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed (STEP 521). If the target tyre pressure has not been reached or any of the pneumatic control valves PCV remain open, the appropriate procedures (STEP 515 and STEP 517) are repeated.

    [0087] A sixth block diagram 600 is shown in Figure 7 to illustrate in more detail the Deflate Per Axle strategy (STEP 315). When the entry conditions are satisfied, the ECU 15 causes the CTIS 1 to enter the Deflate Per Axle strategy (STEP 315). The ECU 15 produces a third signal S3 to cause the CTIS 1 to start the Deflate procedure (STEP 601). All the outlet valves VO associated with one of the axles (the front outlet valves VFL, VFR or rear outlet valves VRL, VRR) are initially opened (STEP 603). The second inlet valve VINSS is toggled (STEP 605) to open the pneumatic control valves PCV in the relevant axle. The exhaust valves E1, E2 are then opened (STEP 607) so that the deflation of the tyres T connected to the relevant axle commences. A check (STEP 609) is then performed to ensure that only the appropriate outlet valves VO associated with each axle are open (the front outlet valves VFL, VFR or the rear outlet valves VRL, VRR).

    [0088] When the outlet valves (the front outlet valves VFL, VFR or rear outlet valves VRL, VRR) have been opened for the desired time period to reach the target amount of compressed air removed from the tyres T, the outlet valves VO are closed (STEP 611). The procedure is repeated if the tyres connected to the other axle need also to be deflated (CONDITION 613).

    [0089] When all the tyres T have been deflated, the Measure procedure (STEP 615) and the procedure to close the pneumatic control valves PCV (STEP 617) are carried out. These procedures are the same as those described herein with reference to Figure 5. When the target tyre pressure for all the tyres T has been reached and all the pneumatic control valves PCV have been closed (CONDITION 619), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed (STEP 621). It will be appreciated that the deflation procedure can be performed with a single toggle (open/closed) of the appropriate pneumatic control valve(s) PCV. The deflation of the tyre(s) T is thereafter controlled by the outlet valves VO in the valve block 3. It is not necessary to toggle the pneumatic control valve(s) PCV between axle deflations. Rather, the pneumatic control valve(s) PCV remain open following deflation for measurement (STEP 614) before being closed together.

    [0090] As illustrated by Figure 7, the CTIS 1 can also deflate all four tyres T of the vehicle VH by first deflating two tyres T of one of the axles (in the described embodiment, the tyres mounted to the front axle TFL, TFR are deflated first, as described above), and then the other two tyres T of the other one of the axles. This tyre deflation strategy is also referred to as per axle deflation. Alternatively, the CTIS 1 can deflate the four tyres T one tyre T at a time, i.e. the tyres T can be individually deflated, measured and closed via the procedure for closing the pneumatic control valves PCV.

    [0091] As illustrated by Figure 6, the CTIS 1 can inflate all four tyres T of the vehicle VH by first inflating the two tyres T of one of the axles (in the present embodiment, the tyres mounted to the rear axle TRL, TRR are inflated first), and then the other two tyres T of the other one of the axles. Alternatively, the CTIS 1 can inflate all four tyres T individually. The CTIS 1 is not designed to inflate all four tyres T simultaneously due to the flow rate and maximum pressure limitations of the compressor 9. However, it will be understood that it is in principle possible to adapt the CTIS 1 to simultaneously inflate all the tyres T, by using a compressor 9 with an adequate flow-rate and pressure rating.

    [0092] The valve usage per unit time will now be considered. A complete inflation or deflation event (i.e. including tyre inflation or tyre deflation, tyre pressure measurement and latching of the pneumatic control valve PCV), which may involve some or all of the tyres T, is referred to herein as a complete tyre inflation or deflation cycle. This is in contrast to tyre inflation or deflation (operations) which, as described above, only relates to the presence of compressed air flow (into or out from the tyres T). It will be appreciated that, in practice, the CTIS 1 may be required to change the tyre pressure of only some of the tyres T. A first table 710 shown in Figure 8 summarises valve usage for a complete tyre deflation cycle involving simultaneous deflation of all four of the tyres T.

    [0093] The first table 710 refers to deflation of all the tyres to 1.5 bar, as described in Figure 3 in connection with the passage of the vehicle from the On Road mode 203 to the Off Road mode 205. A first column 711 of the first table 710 lists the inlet valves VINC, VINSS, the outlet valves VO and the exhaust valves V of the CTIS valve block 3. A second column 712 counts, for each of the valves listed in the first column 711, the respective valve cycles in the Deflate procedure 401 illustrated in Figure 5. For each of the tyres T, a third 713, fourth 714, fifth 715 and sixth 716 column of the first table 710 list the respective valve cycles during the Measure procedure 411 and Close Pneumatic control valve procedure 423 of Figure 5. A seventh column 717 lists the total of the valve cycles for each of the valves listed in the first column 711. If after a measurement there is a need to deflate further a tyre, the exhaust valves E1, E2 undergo the same number of cycles as described in the last two rows 718 of the first table 710 plus one cycle for each of the exhaust valves.

    [0094] A second table 720 shown in Figure 9 summarises similar valve usage information for a deflation procedure wherein the tyres T are deflated individually (this procedure is not illustrated in Figures 4 to 7, and is used in connection with the passage of the vehicle from the Economy Mode 201 to the On Road Mode 203 of Figure 3). In this procedure, all of the outlet valves VO of the valve block 3 are first opened together as illustrated by step 403 of Figure 5. This allows the CTIS 1 to be prepared for deflation. Then, each of the tyres TFL, TFR, TRR, TRL is individually deflated until the target tyre pressures of the On Road Mode 203 illustrated in Figure 3 are reached. For this reason, the valve cycle count for each of the corresponding outlet valves VFL, VFR, VRR, VRL in a second column 721 of the second table 720 is different compared to the second column 712 of the first table 710, with the outlet valves VFL, VFR, VRR, VRL now counting two valve cycles each instead of one. Likewise, if after a measurement there is a need to deflate further each tyre TFL, TFR, TRR, TRL, the deflation procedure is individually repeated, and the exhaust valves E1, E2 undergo the same number of cycles as described in the last two rows 721 of the second table 720 plus one cycle for each of the exhaust valves E1, E2.

    [0095] A third table 730 shown in Figure 10 summarises similar valve usage information for a tyre inflation cycle where the tyres T are inflated from the target pressures of the Off Road Mode 205 to the target pressures of the On Road Mode 203 of Figure 3 via the Interim tyre inflation step 209, also shown in Figure 3. The third table 730 is divided in five main table sections 731, 732, 733, 734, 735. The first table section 731 relates to the inflation of the tyres of the rear axle TRR, TRL from 1.5 bar to 2.0 bar according to Inflate procedure 501, Measure procedure 515 and Close Pneumatic control valve procedure 517 of Figure 6. The columns in this first table section 731 list the valve cycle counts for each valve VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3 and for each procedure. The second table section 732 relates to the inflation of the tyres of the front axle TFL, TFR from 1.5 bar to 2.0 bar also according to Inflate procedure 501, Measure procedure 515 and Close Pneumatic control valve procedure 517 of Figure 6. Likewise, the columns in the second table section 732 list the valve cycle counts for each valve VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3 and for each procedure. The third table section 733 relates to the inflation of the tyres of the rear axle TRR, TRL from 2.0 bar to 2.5 bar. However, in this sequence the rear tyres TRR, TRL are inflated, measured and then the corresponding pneumatic control valves PCVRR, PCVRL closed individually instead of being closed per axle as was the case for the previous two table sections 731, 732. The columns in the third table section 733 list the valve cycle counts for each valve VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3 and for each individual procedure. The fourth table section 144 of the third table 140 relates to the inflation of the tyres of the front axle TFL, TFR from 2.0 bar to 2.3 bar. Likewise, in this sequence the front tyres TFL, TFR are inflated, measured and the corresponding pneumatic control valves PCVFL, PCVFR closed individually. The columns in the fourth table section 734 of the third table 730 list the valve cycle counts for each valve VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3 and for each individual procedure. The fifth table section 735 summarises the total valve cycles for these valves VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2.

    [0096] A fourth table 740 is shown in Figure 11 and summarises similar valve usage information for a tyre inflation cycle wherein the tyres T are inflated from the target pressures of the On Road Mode 203 to the target pressures of the Economy Mode 201. The fourth table 740 is divided in three table sections 741, 742, 743. The first table section 741 of the fourth table 740 is equivalent to the third table section 733 of the third table 730, and the second table section 742 of the fourth table 740 is equivalent to the fourth table section 734 of the third table 730. The third table section 743 of the fourth table 740 represents the total valve cycles in the inflation procedure for the same valves VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3.

    [0097] A fifth table 750 is shown in Figure 12 to summarise, again for each of the valves VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3 (listed in the first columns of the first, second, third and fourth tables 710, 720, 730, 740 described above), the number of valve cycles estimated in a time period of one year assuming different vehicle operation conditions (off road and on road) and different usage types (sand, wet grass, mud and snow for the off road vehicle operation condition and economy (ECO), high speed, gross vehicle weight (GVW) and towing for the on road vehicle operating condition). Estimated valve cycles in one year are also provided in Figure 12 for a tyre pressure maintenance condition (in the row before the last in the fifth table 750 shown in Figure 12). The tyre pressure maintenance condition relates to the pressure maintaining strategy illustrated in Figure 4. As can be seen from the fifth table 750, the valves VO, VINC, VINSS, E1, E2 of the valve block 3 are estimated to collectively undergo 31,590 cycles in the unit time of one year.

    [0098] Figures 13 to 16 show for parts of a per axle deflation cycle and a per axle inflation cycle, the pressure measured in the gallery 33 by the pressure sensor 35 alongside the status of the various valves V, I, E of the valve block 3 illustrated in Figure 1B.

    [0099] A first graph 800 in Figure 13 shows the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 during a first part of a tyre deflation cycle identified over a time period from 151.5sec (designated time t0) to 153.5sec. At time t0, the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 is substantially equal to atmospheric pressure (Patm). This represents a stand-by condition for the CTIS 1. At this time, the pressure at the pressure sensor 35 is representative of the pressure in the relevant tyre supply lines TSL. At time t0, the measured pressure is equal to Patm since the exhaust valves E1, E2 are open, as illustrated by an eighth graph 835 in Figure 13. At time t1 (152sec), the rear outlet valves VRL, VRRO are opened in preparation for deflating the tyres of the rear axle TRL, TRR of the vehicle VH, as shown in a fourth and fifth graph 815, 820 in Figure 13. The front outlet valves VFLO, VFRO remain closed throughout the time period represented in Figure 13, as illustrated by a second and third graph 805, 810 in Figure 13. At time t2 (approximately 152.2sec), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed thereby sealing the tyre supply lines TSL from atmosphere, as shown by the eighth graph 835. At time t2, the inlet valve VINSS is instead opened to allow compressed air from the second compressed air source 7 into the tyre supply lines TSL, as shown by a sixth graph 825 in Figure 13. At time t2, therefore, the pressure sensor 35 detects a pressure increase in the gallery 33 of the valve block 3 as shown in the first graph 800. The incoming compressed air from the second compressed air source 7 toggles the pneumatic control valves located on the rear wheels PCVRL, PCVRR to an open state. This is possible because the rear outlet valves VRLO, VRRO are open at time t2. The instant at which the rear pneumatic control valves PCVRL, PCVRR are opened is time t3 (approximately 152.4sec) in Figure 13. At time t3, the pressure sensor 35 detects a dip in the pressure measured in the tyre supply lines TSL. For a short time period between time t3 and time t4 (approximately 152.6sec), pressure within the tyres, the gallery and the tyre supply lines equalises resulting in a pressure fluctuation being seen at the pressure sensor. At time t5, the exhaust valves E1, E2 are opened and the second inlet valve VINSS is closed. These events initiate tyre deflation. From time t5 onwards, compressed air flows from inside the rear tyre cavities through the rear tyre supply lines TSLRL, TSLRR out to atmosphere. Thereafter, the pressure sensor 35 senses a pressure just above atmospheric pressure Patm due to the incoming flow of compressed air from the rear tyre cavities, as shown by the first graph 800 in Figure 13. It will be appreciated that during the tyre deflation procedure, as shown by a seventh graph 830 in Figure 13, the first compressed air source 5 does not operate. Accordingly, the first inlet valve VINC remains closed for the time period illustrated in Figure 13.

    [0100] In the described tyre deflation procedure, compressed air flows from the rear tyre cavities out to atmosphere for a different deflation time for each of the rear tyres TRL, TRR. This deflation occurs over a time period of approximately 100 seconds for the rear right tyre TRR. In particular, the deflation of the rear right tyre TRR commences at time t5 (152.5sec) when the exhaust valves E1, E2 open, as shown in Figure 13. The deflation of the rear right tyre TRR ends at time t6 (255.2sec) when the rear right outlet valve VRRO is closed, as shown in Figure 14. As explained above, the deflation period is retrieved by the ECU 15 on the basis of a look-up table stored in a memory. The look-up table correlates pressure decrease with deflation time for the tyre deflation procedure, and pressure increase with inflation time for the tyre inflation procedure. The rear left outlet valve VRLO is closed at an intermediate time which is not shown in Figures 13 and 14. Figure 14 only relates to the rear axle tyre measurement and closure procedures starting from time t8.

    [0101] Referring now to Figure 14, a first graph 840 of Figure 14 shows the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 during a part of a tyre deflation cycle identified between a time period extending from 255sec to 259sec. As shown by the first graph 840 in Figure 14, the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 is substantially equal to the atmospheric pressure (Patm) since the rear right tyre TRR is deflated until time t6 (approximately 255.3sec) and the exhaust valves E1, E2 are open, as illustrated by an eighth graph 875 in Figure 14. At time t6, the rear right outlet valve VRRO is closed and, therefore, both the rear tyres TRL, TRR are now ready to undergo the tyre pressure measurement and pneumatic control valve closure procedures. For the rear left tyre TRL, this procedure begins at time t7 (just after 255.5sec), as shown in Figure 14, with the opening of the rear left outlet valve TRL as shown by a fourth graph 855 in Figure 14. At time t8 (approximately 255.7sec), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed so that the pressure sensor 35 can now detect a tyre pressure representative of the tyre pressure in the rear left tyre TRL. As soon as the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed, the pressure sensed by the pressure sensor 35 starts to increase until it reaches the pressure representative of the tyre pressure in the rear left tyre TRL. The ECU 15 causes the pressure sensor 35 to take a reading at time t9 (approximately 256.3sec). Once the reading has been taken, the second inlet valve VINSS is opened at t10 (256.5sec) and closed at t11 (256.7sec). This operation, as explained above, toggles the rear left pneumatic control valve PCVRL to a closed state and causes the pressure sensor 35 to detect pressures of up to about 9 bar, as shown by the first graph 840 of Figure 14. When the rear left pneumatic control valve PCVRL is latched and the exhaust valves E1, E2 are opened at time t11 (256.7sec), the pressure sensed by the pressure sensor 35 is atmospheric pressure Patm again, which, as explained above, corresponds to a stand-by condition. The first compressed air source 5 is not involved in this procedure, as shown by a seventh graph 870 in Figure 14 showing the first (i.e. HF/LP) inlet valve VINC permanently closed. The front outlet valves VFLO, VFRO are also not involved in the procedure, as shown by a second and third graph 845, 850 in Figure 14. The tyre pressure measurement and pneumatic control valve closure procedures are then repeated for the rear right tyre TRR by nearly simultaneously closing the rear left outlet valve VRLO (as shown by the fourth graph 855 of Figure 14 at around time t12 (approximately 257.1sec) and opening the rear right outlet valve VRRO, as shown by a fifth graph 860 at t13 (257.3sec). At time t14 (257.5sec), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed and the pressure sensed by the pressure sensor 35 increases as compressed air from the rear right deflated tyre cavity populates the corresponding tyre supply line TSLRR. The ECU 15 causes a reading to be taken from the pressure sensor 35 at time t15 (258sec), as shown in the first graph 840 in Figure 14, when the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 is representative of the tyre pressure in the rear right tyre cavity. Between time t16 and time t17 the second inlet valve VINSS (i.e. the LF/HP inlet valve) is opened and closed, which causes the rear right pneumatic control valve PCVRR to be closed. At time t17 (258.4sec), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are opened to allow the compressed air in the tyre supply line TSL to be vented to atmosphere. At time t18 (approximately 258.8sec), the pressure sensor 35 detects a pressure equal to Patm, and therefore the system can return to stand-by at time t18. The rear tyres TRL, TRR have now been deflated to the target pressure of approximately 2.5 bar sensed, which corresponds to 1.5 bar gauge.

    [0102] Referring now to Figure 15, a first graph 880 in Figure 15 shows the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 during a preparatory part of a tyre inflation cycle from an initial time t'0 (303.5sec). At t'1 (304.3sec), the ECU 15 causes the first compressed air source 5 to deliver compressed air by opening the inlet valve VINC, as shown by a seventh graph 910 in Figure 15. Pressure starts to build up in the gallery 33 of the valve block 3. At time t'2 (304.5sec), the rear outlet valves VRLO, VRRO are opened by the ECU 15, as shown by a fourth and a fifth graph 895, 900 in Figure 15. Compressed air from the compressor 9 can therefore flow into the tyre supply lines TSLRL, TSLRR relating to the rear axle of the vehicle VH. A dip in the measured pressure is sensed by the pressure sensor 35 at t'3 (304.6sec) as a consequence of this flow of compressed air into the rear tyre supply lines TSLRL, TSLRR. Subsequently, the pressure sensed by the pressure sensor 35 increases again due to additional compressed air input to the rear tyre supply lines TSLRL, TSLRR by the compressor 9. The system is now ready for inflating the rear tyres TRL, TRR. The front outlet valves VFLO, VFRO are not involved in this procedure (i.e. these valves remain closed), as shown by a second and a third graph 885, 890 in Figure 15. Likewise, the second (denoted LF/HP in Figure 15) inlet valve VINSS and the exhaust valves E1, E2 are not involved, as shown by respectively a sixth and an eighth graph 905, 915 in Figure 15.

    [0103] Inflation is achieved by opening and closing the second inlet valve VINSS (i.e. the LF/HP valve) so as to toggle the rear left and rear right pneumatic control valves PCVRL, PCVRR to an open state (this is not shown in Figures 15 or 16). Compressed air can thus flow from the first compressed air source 5 to the relevant tyre cavities for a predetermined time period. The pressure sensor 35 senses the pressure of the compressed air supplied from the first compressed air source 5. As described herein, the target tyre pressure is achieved by controlling the inflation time. The tyre inflation ends for the rear left tyre TRL at a time not shown in Figures 15 and 16.

    [0104] Referring now to Figure 16, the tyre inflation ends for the rear right tyre TRR at time t'4 (323.7sec) shown in Figure 16, when the rear right outlet valve VRRO is closed as shown by a fifth graph 940 in Figure 16. The system is then reconfigured to measure the pressure in the rear left tyre cavity. This procedure starts in Figure 16 at time t'5 (232.8sec), when the first inlet valve VINC (denoted HF/LP valve in Figure 16) is closed (thereby cutting out flow of compressed air from the compressor 9) as shown by a seventh graph 950 in Figure 16, and the exhaust valves E1, E2 are opened to vent out excess compressed air from the relevant tyre supply lines TSLRR, TSLRL as shown by an eighth graph 955 in Figure 16. At time t'6 (323.9sec), the rear left outlet valve VRLO is opened to put the rear left tyre supply line TSLRL in communication with the inflated rear left tyre cavity, as shown by a fourth graph 935 in Figure 16. Soon after time t'7 (234.2sec), the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed to prevent air from the rear left tyre TRL from venting out thereby deflating the previously inflated rear left tyre TRL. The rear left tyre supply line TSLRL fills with compressed air. The pressure in the rear left tyre supply line TSLRL is now representative of the pressure in the rear left tyre TRL which can thus be estimated via the pressure measured by the pressure sensor 35 in the gallery 33 of the valve block 3 at time t'8 (324.7sec), as shown by a first graph 920 in Figure 16. If the pressure achieved is correct, the second inlet valve VINSS (denoted LF/HP in Figure 16) can be opened and closed to isolate the rear left tyre cavity. This happens in Figure 16 between time t'9 (324.9sec) and time t'10 (325.2sec), as shown by a sixth graph 945 in Figure 16. This procedure closes the rear left pneumatic control valve PCVRL to isolate the rear left tyre cavity. At time t'10, the exhaust valves E1, E2 are also opened to vent out excess air from the rear left tyre supply line TSLRL. Since the target pressure (2.5 bar) has been reached, the procedure can be terminated for the rear left tyre TRL. This happens, in Figure 16, at t'11 (325.5sec) when the rear left outlet valve VRLO is closed. The procedure is then repeated for the rear right tyre TRR. The front outlet valves VFLO, VFRO are not involved in this procedure (i.e. they remain permanently closed), as shown by a second and a third graph 925, 930 in Figure 16. At time t'12 (325.7sec), the rear right outlet valve VRRO is opened and at time t'13 (325.9sec) the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed to isolate the rear right tyre supply line TSLRR so that the rear right tyre pressure can be measured. The measurement is taken by the pressure sensor 35 at time t'14 (326.4sec). The second inlet valve VINSS is then opened and closed at times t'15 (326.7sec) and t'16 (329.9sec) respectively to operate the rear right pneumatic control valve PCVRL to seal the rear right tyre cavity. At time t'16, the exhaust valves E1, E2 are also opened to vent excess compressed air from the rear right tyre supply line TSLRR. At time t'17 (237.3sec) approximately, the rear right outlet valve VRR and the exhaust valves E1, E2 are closed to terminate the procedure.

    [0105] An additional control strategy implemented by the CTIS 1 described herein is described below. This control strategy relates to a target tyre pressure over-shooting strategy.

    [0106] Over the life of the vehicle VH, the various joints in the compressed air paths between the compressed air sources and the tyre cavities in the CTIS 1 may develop minor leaks due to normal, ageing wear. As a consequence, during a tyre inflation or deflation operation the CTIS 1 may, respectively, undershoot or overshoot the target tyre pressures. This is due to the presence of such leaks, or losses, whereby during a tyre inflation operation some of compressed air destined to the tyre cavities is instead vented from the CTIS 1 to atmosphere due to one or more leaks. During a tyre deflation operation, an additional quantity of compressed air may vent from the CTIS 1 to atmosphere due to these potential leaks.

    [0107] Since the CTIS 1 described herein is based on an open loop system architecture (i.e. there is no feedback means to feedback to the ECU 15 the amount of compressed air being actually or instantaneously transferred to the tyre cavities as the tyres are inflated or being actually or instantaneously vented to atmosphere as the tyres are deflated), a tyre inflation or deflation operation is terminated after a given/predetermined tyre inflation or deflation time has elapsed. As described earlier, these given/predetermined times are retrieved by the ECU 15 from the look-up table. Subsequently, the tyre pressures are measured for each of the tyres T involved in the inflation or deflation procedures to check whether the tyre inflation or deflation has delivered the target tyre pressures. In this open loop system, the ECU 15 is only programmed to check that the inflation or deflation time is equivalent to the inflation or deflation time retrieved from memory and to successively verify the tyre pressure and close the pneumatic control valves PCV by activating respectively the pressure measurement procedure and the pneumatic control valve closure procedure as described herein. These events terminate the overall tyre inflation or deflation cycle/procedure.

    [0108] In both scenarios (tyre inflation or deflation), it is undesirable to have to inflate the tyres further in a subsequent step to reach the target tyre pressures, since this would require at least another inflation or deflation cycle (i.e. inclusive of the tyre pressure measurement and pneumatic control valve closure operations). A further tyre inflation cycle is especially undesirable since it could require a further activation of the compressor 9 via the electric motor 27 with related noise. Further, any additional inflation or deflation cycle/procedure equates to additional energy consumed, potential additional noise emitted by the CTIS 1, additional time required to reach the target pressures, additional valve cycles for one or more of the various valves of the CTIS 1 and, in particular, the pneumatic control valves PCV. Once the tyre pressures have been measured after inflation or deflation the system is required to cycle through the pneumatic valve closure procedure before the valves can be brought back to the tyre inflation configuration. Then the pneumatic control valves PCV are required to cycle again through the pressure check/measurement configuration before the pneumatic control valves PCV can be closed/latched to terminate the inflation or deflation cycles/procedures as earlier described. An additional problem is that if the required additional inflation time is particularly short, initialisation of the compressor 9 and the air dryer unit 29 may be problematic and the CTIS 1 may consequently generate a system fault as illustrated by System Fault status 25 illustrated in Figure 2.

    [0109] In the described embodiment, the ECU 15 of the CTIS 1 is programmed to provide compensation to try to address the aforementioned problem. In particular, the ECU 15 is programmed to ensure that at the end of the inflation or deflation operations (identified by flow of compressed air to or from one or more tyres T) the tyre pressures are each greater than the target tyre pressures. In other words, the ECU 15 is programmed so as always to include a safety overshooting or compensation margin at the end of the inflation or deflation operations/times. As a consequence, the ECU 15 is programmed to overshoot the target tyre pressure in the case of tyre inflation and to undershoot the target tyre pressure in the case of tyre deflation. The overshooting tyre pressure (or compensation tyre pressure) corresponds to the target tyre pressure plus a margin.

    [0110] In an example, the ECU 15 retrieves from the look-up table an inflation time equal to 60sec and adds a safety margin of 6sec to overshoot the target tyre pressure thereby inflating above the target tyre pressure. In another example, the ECU 15 retrieves from memory a deflation time of 100sec and subtracts a safety margin of 15sec to undershoot the target tyre pressure thereby under-deflating the relevant tyre T. Once the target tyre pressure have been overshot or undershot by the CTIS 1 so as to avoid further one or more full tyre inflation/deflation cycles, the ECU 15 is programmed to adjust the target tyre pressure during the following Measure procedure 515 (examples of which as shown in Figures 5 to 7) to adjust the tyre pressure to the target pressure. During the Measure procedure 515, the CTIS 1 can adjust the tyre pressure as required by simply opening the exhaust valves E1, E2 until the target tyre pressure has been achieved. The CTIS 1 is therefore no longer required to undertake one or more additional inflation cycles.

    [0111] Criteria can be developed to estimate, or calculate, the safety margin (also referred to herein as the over-shooting margin or the compensation margin). In particular, it would be preferable to be able to estimate or calculate safety margins which allow the system to overshoot (in the case of tyre inflation) or undershoot (in the case of tyre deflation) the target tyre pressure as little as possible while at the same time resulting into inflation above or slightly above the target tyre pressure at the end of the inflation or deflation operation/time. In some embodiments, the over-shooting margin is established on the basis of a worst-case scenario which is associated to a maximum of compressed air loss through the joints. In this case, the safety margin equals to the additional inflation time, or to the subtracted deflation time, as the case may be, which is required to compensate for the maximum of compressed air loss associated with the worst-case scenario. As it will be understood, a variety of worst-case scenarios could be hypothesised and, accordingly, a range of maximum losses could be used. For example, the worst case scenario may be estimated based on the possible number of points at which a leak may occur and the estimated maximum leak at each location. Empirical testing may be used to obtain data from which to estimate the maximum leak at each location. In order to determine the condition of the seals the safety margin may use a worst case scenario of the expected air leakage after a predetermined usage, for example after 160'934 km (100'000 miles). If, using this valve, prior to the vehicle reaching 160'934 km (100'000 miles) usage, after the first part of the inflation the pressure is below the target pressure, this may be indicative of significant seal deterioration outside of expected parameters and a notification may be issued to the driver, for example through a vehicle HMI.

    [0112] The compensation margin could be calculated as the additional inflation time, or to the subtracted deflation time, as the case may be, which is required to compensate for the maximum loss of compressed air loss through one or more of the rotary air couplings VH.

    [0113] It is also predicted that the aforementioned compressed air losses may depend on vehicle age or mileage. Accordingly, the over-shooting margin could be dependent on, or be a function of, vehicle age or mileage.

    [0114] It is also conceivable to use the CTIS 1 to measure the air loss, or air loss rates, through the joints at one or more times throughout the life of the vehicle. In this case, the CTIS 1 is configured to convert a measured discrepancy between the target tyre pressure and the current tyre pressure for one or more of the tyres following a tyre inflation or deflation procedure into an estimated air loss or air loss rate. In particular, the CTIS 1 could be configured to individually test the rotary air couplings RAC in this manner to estimate the air loss, or air loss rate, through each of the rotary air couplings RAC at one or more times. The resulting compensation margins could then be applied to the tyres individually, or for each axle, if appropriate. Alternatively, the outlet valves VO may be opened, the PCV valves closed, the exhaust valves E1, E2 closed, and pressure applied by opening and closing the first inlet valve VINC to pressurise the air-path to the tyre. The pressure sensed at the pressure sensor 35 can then be observed and any reduction can be assumed to be as a result of system leakage losses between the valve block 3 and the pneumatic control valves PCV. The outlet valves VO may be individually opened to estimate the losses in the air path to each tyre T.

    [0115] It is also conceivable to use combinations of the above described criteria or methodologies for the calculation or estimation of the compensation margin or margins, or to refine the above described criteria or methodologies in various manners which are however not described herein in detail.


    Claims

    1. A processor for controlling operation of a central tyre inflation system (1) to change a pressure of a tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) of a vehicle to a target tyre pressure, wherein the processor has an input for receiving a signal indicative of a request to change the pressure of said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR), wherein the processor is configured:

    to determine the target tyre pressure in dependence on said signal;

    to control the central tyre inflation system (1) to inflate said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) to a predetermined interim tyre pressure, said interim tyre pressure being higher than the target tyre pressure for said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR); and

    to control the central tyre inflation system (1) to deflate said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) from the interim tyre pressure to the target tyre pressure.


     
    2. A processor as claimed in claim 1, wherein the processor is configured to receive a signal representative of a measured first tyre pressure, the inflation of said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) to said interim tyre pressure being based on said first tyre pressure.
     
    3. A processor as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the processor is configured to receive a signal representative of a measured second tyre pressure after the tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) has been inflated to said interim tyre pressure, the second tyre pressure being used to control the deflation of said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) from said interim tyre pressure to said target tyre pressure.
     
    4. A processor as claimed in any one of claims 1, 2 or 3, wherein the processor is configured to control the central tyre inflation system (1) to inflate said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) for a predetermined tyre inflation time to reach said interim tyre pressure.
     
    5. A processor as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the processor is configured to control the central tyre inflation system (1) to deflate said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) for a predetermined tyre deflation time to reach said target tyre pressure from said interim tyre pressure.
     
    6. A processor as claimed in claim 4 or claim 5, wherein the processor is operatively coupled to one or more memory means storing values representative of said tyre inflation time and/or said tyre deflation time.
     
    7. A processor as claimed in any one of the preceding claims claim, wherein, to inflate said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR), the processor is configured to generate a control signal for controlling operation of a compressor; and/or a control signal for controlling one or more valves to supply compressed air from a compressed air source (5), and/or wherein, to deflate said tyre, the processor is configured to generate a control signal for controlling one or more valves to vent air from the tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR).
     
    8. A processor as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein said processor is configured to determine said interim tyre pressure based on an age of the central tyre inflation system (1), or on a historic usage of the central tyre inflation system, or wherein said processor is configured to calculate said interim tyre pressure; or to retrieve said interim tyre pressure from a database.
     
    9. An electronic control unit for controlling a central tyre inflation system (1), said electronic control unit comprising a processor as claimed in any one of the preceding claims.
     
    10. A central tyre inflation system comprising a processor as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 8, or the electronic control unit claimed in claim 9, optionally wherein the central tyre inflation system (1) comprises a pneumatic control valve (PCV) for controlling the flow of compressed air to and from said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR).
     
    11. A vehicle comprising a central tyre inflation system (1) as claimed in claim 10.
     
    12. A method of changing a tyre pressure of a tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) of a vehicle, the method comprising the steps of:

    receiving a signal indicative of a request to change the tyre pressure of said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR);

    determining a target tyre pressure in dependence on said signal;

    using a central tyre inflation system (1), inflating said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) to a predetermined interim tyre pressure, said predetermined interim tyre pressure being higher than the target tyre pressure for said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR); and

    using the central tyre inflation system (1), deflating said tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) from the interim tyre pressure to the target tyre pressure.


     
    13. A method as claimed in claim 12 comprising measuring a first tyre pressure before the tyre is inflated to said interim tyre pressure, optionally wherein the inflation of the tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) to said interim tyre pressure is controlled based on said first tyre pressure.
     
    14. A method as claimed in claim 12 or claim 13 comprising measuring a second tyre pressure after the tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) is inflated to said interim tyre pressure, optionally wherein the deflation of the tyre (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) from said interim tyre pressure to said target tyre pressure is controlled based on said second tyre pressure.
     
    15. A computer program product comprising a computer readable storage medium including computer readable program code, wherein the computer readable program code when executed causes a processor to implement the method claimed in any one of claims 12 to 14.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Prozessor zum Steuern eines Betriebs eines zentralen Reifenfüllsystems (1) zum Ändern eines Drucks eines Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) eines Fahrzeugs auf einen Zielreifendruck, wobei der Prozessor einen Eingang zum Empfangen eines Signals aufweist, das eine Anforderung zum Ändern des Drucks des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR), anzeigt, wobei der Prozessor zu Folgendem konfiguriert ist:

    Bestimmen des Zielreifendrucks in Abhängigkeit von dem Signal;

    Steuern des zentralen Reifenfüllsystems (1) zum Füllen des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) auf einen vorbestimmten Zwischenreifendruck, wobei der Zwischenreifendruck höher als der Zielreifendruck für den Reifen (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) ist; und

    Steuern des zentralen Reifenfüllsystems (1) zum Entleeren des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) von dem Zwischenreifendruck auf den Zielreifendruck.


     
    2. Prozessor nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Prozessor konfiguriert ist, um ein Signal zu empfangen, das einen gemessenen ersten Reifendruck darstellt, wobei das Füllen des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) auf den Zwischenreifendruck auf dem ersten Reifendruck basiert ist.
     
    3. Prozessor nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei der Prozessor konfiguriert ist, um ein Signal zu empfangen, das einen gemessenen zweiten Reifendruck darstellt, nachdem der Reifen (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) auf den Zwischenreifendruck gefüllt worden ist, wobei der zweite Reifendruck zum Steuern des Entleerens des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) von dem Zwischenreifendruck auf den Zielreifendruck verwendet wird.
     
    4. Prozessor nach einem der Ansprüche 1, 2 oder 3, wobei der Prozessor konfiguriert ist, um das zentrale Reifenfüllsystem (1) zum Füllen des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) für eine vorbestimmte Reifenfülldauer zu steuern, um den Zwischenreifendruck zu erreichen.
     
    5. Prozessor nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei der Prozessor konfiguriert ist, um das zentrale Reifenfüllsystem (1) zum Entleeren des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) für eine vorbestimmte Reifenentleerungsdauer zu steuern, um den Zielreifendruck von dem Zwischenreifendruck zu erreichen.
     
    6. Prozessor nach Anspruch 4 oder 5, wobei der Prozessor betriebsmäßig an ein oder an mehrere Speichermittel gekoppelt ist, die Werte speichern, die die Reifenfülldauer und/oder die Reifenentleerdauer darstellen.
     
    7. Prozessor nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Prozessor zum Füllen der Reifen (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) konfiguriert ist, um ein Steuersignal zum Steuern des Betriebs eines Kompressors; und/oder ein Steuersignal zum Steuern eines oder mehrerer Ventile zum Zuführen von Druckluft von einer Druckluftquelle (5) zu erzeugen, und/oder wobei der Prozessor zum Entleeren des Reifens konfiguriert ist, um ein Steuersignal zum Steuern eines oder mehrerer Ventile zum Entlüften von Luft aus dem Reifen (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) zu erzeugen.
     
    8. Prozessor nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Prozessor konfiguriert ist, um den Zwischenreifendruck basierend auf einem Alter des zentralen Reifenfüllsystems (1) oder auf einem historischen Nutzen des zentralen Reifenfüllsystems zu bestimmen, oder wobei der Prozessor konfiguriert ist, um den Zwischenreifendruck zu berechnen; oder um den Zwischenreifendruck aus einer Datenbank abzurufen.
     
    9. Elektronische Steuervorrichtung zum Steuern eines zentralen Reifenfüllsystems (1), wobei die elektronische Steuereinheit einen Prozessor nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche umfasst.
     
    10. Zentrales Reifenfüllsystem, einen Prozessor nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 8 oder die elektronische Steuereinheit nach Anspruch 9 umfassend, optional wobei das zentrale Reifenfüllsystem (1) ein pneumatisches Steuerventil (pneumatic control valve - PCV) zum Steuern des Stroms von Druckluft an den und von dem Reifen (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) umfasst.
     
    11. Fahrzeug, ein zentrales Reifenfüllsystem (1) nach Anspruch 10 umfassend.
     
    12. Verfahren zum Ändern eines Reifendrucks eines Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) eines Fahrzeugs, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

    Empfangen eines Signals, das eine Anforderung zum Ändern des Reifendrucks des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) anzeigt;

    Bestimmen eines Zielreifendrucks in Abhängigkeit von dem Signal;

    Verwenden eines zentralen Reifenfüllsystems (1), Füllen des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) auf einen vorbestimmten Zwischenreifendruck, wobei der vorbestimmte Zwischenreifendruck höher als der Zielreifendruck für den Reifen (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) ist; und

    Verwenden des zentralen Reifenfüllsystems (1), Entleeren des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) von dem Zwischenreifendruck auf den Zielreifendruck.


     
    13. Verfahren nach Anspruch 12, umfassend ein Messen eines ersten Reifendrucks, bevor der Reifen auf den Zwischenreifendruck gefüllt wird, optional wobei das Füllen des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) auf den Zwischenreifendruck basierend auf dem ersten Reifendruck gesteuert wird.
     
    14. Verfahren nach Anspruch 12 oder 13, umfassend das Messen eines zweiten Reifendrucks, nachdem der Reifen (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) auf den Zwischenreifendruck gefüllt worden ist, optional wobei das Entleeren des Reifens (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) von dem Zwischenreifendruck auf den Zielreifendruck basierend auf dem zweiten Reifendruck gesteuert wird.
     
    15. Computerprogrammprodukt, umfassend ein computerlesbares Speichermedium, das computerlesbaren Programmcode einschließt, wobei der computerlesbare Programmcode, wenn ausgeführt, einen Prozessor dazu veranlasst, das Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 12 bis 14 zu implementieren.
     


    Revendications

    1. Processeur permettant de commander le fonctionnement d'un système central de gonflage de pneus (1) afin de modifier la pression d'un pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) de véhicule en une pression de pneu cible, dans lequel le processeur comporte une entrée destinée à recevoir un signal indicateur d'une demande de modification de la pression dudit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR), le processeur étant conçu pour :

    déterminer la pression de pneu cible en fonction dudit signal ;

    commander le système central de gonflage de pneus (1) afin de gonfler ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) à une pression de pneu intermédiaire prédéterminée, ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire étant supérieure à la pression de pneu cible pour ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) ; et

    commander le système central de gonflage de pneus (1) afin de dégonfler ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) de la pression de pneu intermédiaire à la pression de pneu cible.


     
    2. Processeur selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le processeur est conçu pour recevoir un signal représentatif d'une première pression de pneu mesurée, le gonflage dudit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) à ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire étant basé sur ladite première pression de pneu.
     
    3. Processeur selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel le processeur est conçu pour recevoir un signal représentatif d'une seconde pression de pneu mesurée après le gonflage du pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) à ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire, la seconde pression de pneu étant utilisée pour commander le dégonflage dudit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) DE LADITE PRESSION DE PNEU INTERMEDIAIRE A LADITE PRESSION DE PNEU CIBLE.
     
    4. Processeur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1, 2 ou 3, dans lequel le processeur est conçu pour commander le système central de gonflage de pneus (1) afin de gonfler ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) pendant un temps de gonflage de pneu pour atteindre ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire.
     
    5. Processeur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel le processeur est conçu pour commander le système central de gonflage de pneus (1) afin de dégonfler ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) pendant un temps de dégonflage de pneu pour atteindre ladite pression de pneu cible à partir de ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire.
     
    6. Processeur selon la revendication 4 ou 5, dans lequel le processeur est couplé de manière opérationnelle à un ou plusieurs moyens de mémoire stockant des valeurs représentatives dudit temps de gonflage de pneu et/ou dudit temps de dégonflage de pneu.
     
    7. Processeur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel, pour gonfler ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR), le processeur est conçu pour générer un signal de commande permettant de commander le fonctionnement d'un compresseur, et/ou un signal de commande permettant de commander une ou plusieurs soupapes afin de fournir de l'air comprimé à partir d'une source d'air comprimé (5) ; et/ou dans lequel, pour dégonfler ledit pneu, le processeur est conçu pour générer un signal de commande permettant de commander une ou plusieurs soupapes afin d'évacuer l'air du pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR).
     
    8. Processeur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ledit processeur est conçu pour déterminer ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire sur la base de l'âge du système central de gonflage de pneu (1) ou d'un historique concernant l'usage du système central de gonflage de pneu, ou dans lequel ledit processeur est conçu pour calculer ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire ou pour récupérer ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire dans une base de données.
     
    9. Unité de commande électronique permettant de commander un système central de gonflage de pneus (1), ladite unité de commande électronique comprenant un processeur selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes.
     
    10. Système central de gonflage de pneus comprenant un processeur selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 8, ou unité de commande électronique selon la revendication 9, éventuellement dans lequel/laquelle le système central de gonflage de pneus (1) comprend une soupape de commande mécanique (PCV) permettant de commander le flux d'air comprimé vers et provenant dudit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR).
     
    11. Véhicule comprenant un système central de gonflage de pneus (1) selon la revendication 10.
     
    12. Procédé de modification de la pression d'un pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) d'un véhicule, le procédé comprenant les étapes consistant à :

    recevoir un signal indicateur d'une demande de modification de la pression de pneu dudit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) ;

    déterminer une pression de pneu cible en fonction dudit signal ;

    utiliser un système central de gonflage de pneus (1) pour gonfler ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) à une pression de pneu intermédiaire prédéterminée, ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire étant supérieure à la pression de pneu cible pour ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) ; et

    utiliser le système central de gonflage de pneus (1) pour dégonfler ledit pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) en le faisant passer de la pression de pneu intermédiaire à la pression de pneu cible.


     
    13. Processeur selon la revendication 12, comprenant la mesure d'une première pression de pneu avant le gonflage du pneu à ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire, éventuellement dans lequel le gonflage du pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) à ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire est commandé sur la base de ladite première pression de pneu.
     
    14. Processeur selon la revendication 12 ou 13, comprenant la mesure d'une seconde pression de pneu après le gonflage du pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) à ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire, éventuellement dans lequel le dégonflage du pneu (TFL, TFR, TRL, TRR) de ladite pression de pneu intermédiaire à ladite pression de pneu cible est commandé sur la base de ladite seconde pression de pneu.
     
    15. Produit de programme informatique comprenant un support de stockage lisible par ordinateur comportant un code de programme lisible par ordinateur, dans lequel le code de programme lisible par ordinateur, lorsqu'il est exécuté, amène un processeur à exécuter le procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 12 à 14.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description