Pump it up when you do really need it?

That’s what a new automated tire inflator aims to do for heavy hauling trucks.

The Aperia Technologies Halo is a bolt-on, self-contained pump designed to keep tires inflated to the perfect pressure at all times, extending their life and improving fuel economy along the way.

The device attaches to the axle just like the hubodometers often seen on trailers, while a hose connects to the tire valve stem. It’s powered via an internal mechanism similar to a self-winding watch, so it doesn’t require an external power system or compressor.

The pressure setting is pre-programmed at the factory, and one unit can service up to two standard tires, or one wide base tire. And it works both ways, reducing pressure in overheated tires, as well.

Each Halo costs $299 and was engineered to work at all drive and freewheel positions on most types of Class 7 and 8 trucks, including buses, but isn’t currently compatible with the front steering wheels.

There’s been a renewed focus on big rig fuel economy recently thanks to the high cost of diesel and upcoming EPA standards, with all aspects of the vehicles being looked in an effort to squeak out every possible MPG, right down to the tires.

A few years ago, Goodyear announced that it was working on self-inflating truck tire technology utilizing a built-in peristaltic pump, but has not yet introduced a production version, leaving a vacuum to be filled by innovative products like the Halo.

Even at a total price of around $2,400 for a full semi-truck application, company CEO Josh Carter says a typical operator will save that much money through a combined reduction of fuel consumption and tire repair and replacement costs in just one year.

The American-made Halo comes with a standard one-year warranty, but according Aperia has an expected, maintenance-free life of 500,000 miles or 10 years.

Although the Halo was inspired by a flat-tire suffered by company co-founder Brandon Richardson while he was an engineering student at Stanford, the current version is too large for passenger cars and Halo isn't planning to offer one soon, instead concentrating its growing business on the commercial trucking industry.

Nevertheless, development continues and Carter sees the potential appeal for off-road adventurers, many of whom already use complex central tire inflation systems, as well as commuters looking to save a few bucks.