Airless Tires for Cars: The Way of the Future?
With the advances in technology today, we all knew that advancements in how cars work would not be far behind. We have cars that are electric, use different fuel types, digital dashes, and they will connect via BlueTooth to your phones. Well, what happens when they tell you that you can have a tire that is not one that you will need to pump air in it? We have all had to put air in our tires at one time or another, maybe even had a blow out on the highway. In this blog, we are going to discuss the new technology that is being introduced and worked on for those pesky tires. This technology is airless tires.
What are Airless Tires?
GM Michelin, Bridgestone and Resilient Tech have come up with different types but the same concept of an airless tire. These tires look like Tweel and will have no air in them to worry about when driving. The military, as in most cases, are always looking to have better working vehicles and the latest technology to keep our soldiers safer when in combat. While companies are trying to give them exactly what they want, they are also going to be available to your personal vehicle in the future.
GM’s Michelin Tires
Vision concept made in 3-D printing. This is made of some biodegradable materials, bamboo and natural rubber to name some of the elements of these tires. The structure of these tires are looking like a sponge, or in other words, think of a spiderweb in the shape of a tire.
Instead of petroleum to make the rubber for tires, molasses will achieve a similar product from ethanol which is 75% of the current tire. GM and Micheline have different versions of their type of tires and go under different names. Uptis and Tweel are some of the names you will hear when looking up these tires.
These are made to have spoke-like designs in the wheels, which will help support the weight of the vehicle. Non-pneumatic tires have been introduced to improve load-bearing capabilities, environmental design, and performance.
These tires are also non-pneumatic design, mainly made for military use. This is another spoke structure design, but with the concept being mainly for military purposes overseas. Easier to transport and lighter on the vehicles. This will help with any problems the military was having while being deployed, or even in the deployment itself.
Benefits of Airless Tire Tech
Airless tire technology will bring our cars into the future a little further and will benefit many different situations that we may encounter each day.
No Flat Tires
The one thing that we all worry about is getting a flat tire or blowout on the highways. Having the tire slowly loose air is one thing, however, having a blowout can be deadly. The material in these tires will be able to handle hitting a nail on the road, or some other type of object you might not necessarily see that could puncture a tire. This means longer trips for those who like to travel. Also for those using the self-driving cars technology in the future, these cars will be able to be a little safer for those thinking about getting one.
No Spare Tires
You can’t have a flat tire and not have a spare one available, whether it is the same size spare or one of those donut tires. Most vehicles come with a spare tire, in the trunk, or under the vehicle. This adds weight to the vehicle itself and can take up more fuel consumption. Not to mention the extra space it takes up in your trunk with all the tools needed to change the tires.
Everyone is talking about global warming and what it means for the earth in the future, so everyone tries to practice recycling. Some companies have even started to make their products more biodegradable. Most of the designs for these tires are using recyclable materials, therefore making it more efficient for uses of resources. These tires would not need to have special recycling procedures in place but could be sent off and refashioned into new tires.
Disadvantages of Airless Tires
As of right now, there are some disadvantages to this new type of tech. With further research and development happening, these items could disappear with time, however, for now here are some of the problems.
You know what it is like to ride a rollercoaster climbing up that first hill with all the vibrations you get, well these tires do the same thing at faster speeds. This does not make for a comfortable ride, it just gets rockier the faster you go.
On test drives of these tires, the noise was a huge factor in any speeds exceeding 50mph. The noise will get worse the faster you go and the last thing you want to be doing is turning up the radio to cover the noise and going deaf.
Due to the technical designs of these tires, small rocks or other debris can get trapped in the spokes or spongelike material, making it harder to get out. Have you ever driven down a dirt road, and that little pebble gets stuck in the rim of your vehicle and you can hear it clinking around? Well, that is what we are talking about here, only instead of hearing it, you will probably feel it in the way the tire drives.
Tires generate heat while riding on the road, which gives the tire the expansion it needs to grab the road. In trials of these new tires, they would generate more heat than was needed.
This new technology is also going to have huge impacts on the tire industry itself. Existing technology will be affected as well as manufacturers. Let’s take a look at some of the impacts these tires will have the tire market should these tires take over in the coming years.
Making these tires will encompass an entirely new process. The scale of changes needed to a number of factories that already process tires is tremendous. The equipment changes in these plants will take time, as well as the number of hours for new training.
All equipment in processing plants and auto repair shops will need to be switched out and changed to allow for the difference in tires. Not to mention those dealerships that have repair shops attached to them, they will also have to change out their equipment.
There are several products on the market that would no longer be needed. Air Valves, repair kits and inner tubes for tires would be just some of the products taken off the market. That will bring us to the next one.
Those that make the products that will be taken off the market will lose jobs. In some cases, they will lose their businesses if all they do is make products for tires.
The Way of the Future?
When this is all said and done, most of the manufacturers are looking around 2024 for these tires to be available for commercial use on regular vehicles. There are a lot more testing and trials that these tires need to go through, but if you look up and see what is available already, you might be able to try them on some other vehicles if you own them. Some of these already available are for construction, farming or even sporting vehicles in which those type of tires are readily available.
- Engadget – GM and Michelin Airless Tires
- Bridgestone – Airless Concept
- Fast Company – No Air and 3D Printed Tire
- How Stuff Works – Tweel Airless Tire
- Michelin – Uptis
- CBS News – Airless Tires?