A team of engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison along with an expert from China have created a minuscule generator that can actually harvest energy from the friction caused by the tyres.
While very early on in development, the long-term hope is that eventually the nanogenerator could be used to actually harvest even more energy from cars.
Xudong Wang, the Harvey D. Spangler fellow and an associate professor of materials science and engineering and his team have been working on the prototype for about a year.
The finished concept is a modified JEEP RC car that can utilises the energy that's created when two dissimilar objects are rubbed together.
This can most commonly be seen in the effect on hair when combing it, or through the rubbing of shoes on carpet floors.
"The friction between the tire and the ground consumes about 10 percent of a vehicle's fuel," says Xudong Wang.
"That energy is wasted. So if we can convert that energy, it could give us very good improvement in fuel efficiency."
The energy is collected through a tiny electrode that's placed onto the tyre. Every time the tyre connects with the road a tiny electrical current is created which is then stored and sent to an LED indicator light on the car.
OK so it's just been tested on a remote-controlled car so far, but Wang believes the technology is completely scalable predicting that some cars would be able to get 10 per cent of their energy back through this method.