Roadshow

Goodyear's newest tire is for flying cars

The Aero concept is a cool wheel, trick propeller and overworked tire.

Goodyear

We've seen Goodyear concept tires and wheels that grow moss in their middle or that roll every direction like a billiard ball with English on it, but this time they're taking flight.

Now playing: Watch this: Goodyear's Aero tire is for flying self-driving cars
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The Goodyear Aero concept unveiled at the 2019 Geneva auto show functions as a narrow, non-pneumatic tire when on the ground, then acts as a propeller when rotated and spun up to high RPM in a tilt-rotor application. Given the amount of recent hype around autonomous flying cars, its a concept worth looking at.

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Goodyear's Aero concept can function in the vertical plane as a road going tire/wheel assembly, and in the horizontal plane as a tilt-rotor propeller.

Goodyear

The most clever part of Aero is how the wheel's "spokes" are also the propeller's blades. Pitched, curved and manufactured precisely, they would seem to save a lot of space, expense, and articulation headaches on a flying car.

The rubber that wraps around those blades would be solid, rather than an air-filled tire that would deform and disintegrate at aeronautic RPM. But without a pneumatic cushion Goodyear's material scientists will have to pull some all-nighters to formulate a material compliant enough to cushion the ride on ground while also tough enough to protect the critical wheel/propeller structure. I wouldn't want to get aloft only to find out I have a cracked prop blade because I curbed it downtown an hour before.

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The interior of the Goodyear Aero would be a sophisticated turbine-style fan for aerial propulsion, while the outside would be a narrow non-pneumatic tire that provides cushioning and grip.

Goodyear

Goodyear imagines this Aero assembly being spun by magnetic propulsion and controlled by AI, both of which are the sorts of things you just have to say in 2019. But more realistic is their vision that Aero would be monitored by a fiber optic sensor package to make sure it's in perfect condition and performing properly in its two critical missions. That jibes with an exploding trend of smart monitoring technology in the auto business, from Porsche's new Wet Mode that listens for the audio signature of wet pavement, to millimeter wave in-car monitoring tech from Texas Instruments that seeks to revolutionize awareness of who's in the car and their state. 

Maybe the most interesting part of these "tires" is that we're talking about the components needed for self-flying cars.