Airless tires make sense. But how the product becomes viable is another matter. It now seems like Michelin and General Motors with one project and Goodyear with another could soon help alleviate millions of punctured tires yearly bending up on landfills.
According to a report on Dezeen.com, Michelin’s UPTIS (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System) promises to eliminate the waste and danger of a flat or blown-out tire. It hopes the tires will be available by 2024.
Goodyear has also recently touted an airless concept called Aero and Oxygene. The former tilt to turn into a propeller for flying cars. Oxygene is an oxygen-producing moss tire concept.
The Michelin-General Motors airless tire concept features a complex internal architecture made from carefully engineered materials that remove the need for compressed air to support the vehicle’s weight.
Michelin reports the tires will require a “near-zero” level of maintenance. The company announced its research partnership with General Motors (GM) earlier this month at Montreal’s Movin’On Summit for sustainable mobility.
The next step will be to test the prototype on GM’s Chevrolet Bolt electric cars. The companies aim to introduce the tires onto some GM passenger vehicles in 2024.
Michelin is also positioning the technology as a good fit for large fleets of shared vehicles, which it sees as the likely future of mobility.
“The vehicles and fleets of tomorrow – whether autonomous, all-electric, shared service or other applications – will demand near-zero maintenance from the tire to maximize their operating capabilities,” said Michelin.
The UPTIS is an evolution of Michelin’s current tire technology, Tweel. It’s a combination of the words “tire” and “wheel.”
The Tweel has a spoke-like internal structure bears some of the vehicle’s load. In UPTIS, this architecture can bear all of the load — including at highway speeds.
Materials innovation has also been key. The prototype tires are made from a composite rubber and high-strength resin-embedded fiberglass.