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CNET On Cars: Road to the Future: Airless tires
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CNET On Cars: Road to the Future: Airless tires

2:19 /

Everything about air in tires is antiquated. The checking, refilling, and patching hasn't changed much in a century. Brian Cooley tells you why tires without air may be the future.

[MUSIC] Now take a look at this one. This one is from Bridgestone. It's their latest concept of an air free tire. Well, tire? Like a wheel assembly. First of all, notice the large diameter huffs so they can create these veins of thermoplastic at the length or height that they want them to be. They've got some give in them as you can see there. They're pretty stiff though. On the other side is another side of these veins bent the other way and this they say is key and different from a lot of other designs because the tires got two ways of supporting the vehicles weight that goes over terrain. Of course you can't get a flat, of course you can't get a blow out, but like we say that doesn't happen that often, but the other benefits here would be what? Extremely. Stiff in cornering. I mean this doesn't have any give going that direction, as you can imagine. Very little. You don't have any sidewall slosh as you're working through corners. It might even be unnerving how stiff it is. And then notice this. The tread is actually the part you replace. The wheel, unless you damage it, doesn't get replaced. So all you do is basically. Recap it with another piece of tread making it very environmentally friendly. YOu're just replacing this strip of thin tread rubber. Michelin's Tweel also uses a thing outer tread layer. There. Then an array of long spokes to give the compliance needed to create a good contact patch. Then a more dense matrix of spokes closer to the hub and that creates an energy absorbing device between the car and the road. Britek said it energy return wheel is designed to take the impacts of the road and instead of transferring all of that to the suspension to deal with. Turns it into a bit of torque to aid the cars forward progress or the opposite flow during breaking and resilient technologies has focused on airless tires for military applications where a flat can strand soldiers in a bad place. Their design uses a honeycomb of polymer veins and they say 30% of those can be blown or shot out and the tire will still function adequately. I find the airless tire thing fascinating because of the low maintenance extreme durability and it's got a nice kind of environmental footprint. We throw away a lot of tires that we have to find something to do with. And this would erase most of that.

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