Spherical Tyres – On the Ball?
With driverless cars predicted to become a lot more prevalent over the coming years, some design changes which are radically different to what we are used to with conventional cars is possible.
Now the tyre manufacturer Goodyear has given an indication as to what radical designs could come when driverless cars are more popular by introducing a spherical tyre.
How the spherical tyre works
The 3D-printed creation, called the Goodyear Eagle-360, has been revealed during this week’s Geneva Motor Show. Designed specifically for autonomous cars, the Eagle-360 sports a squiggly tread pattern which is said to be based on the texture of brain coral.
Although the pattern of the tread appears random, the creators of Eagle-360 say it is ideal for a tyre that can rotate in any direction. The voids of the tread contain a material that mimics natural sponge and can soften when wet to soak up water and increase grip.
Goodyear also envisions that the tyre, with the aid of sensors would be able to roll on specific axes to maximise grip in different conditions. For instance, when the road is dry, the tyre could make use of the wide central sipe by spinning it perpendicular to the direction of travel.
The Eagle-360 tyre would also reportedly send assessments of grip to the car’s computer and inform it when it’s necessary to travel below the speed limit.
Fitting a spherical tyre
In regards how Goodyear’s spherical tyre could actually be fitted to a car, its creators propose that such tyres could be attached by using existing magnetic-levitation technology. They do concede though that based on current technology, fitting the required magnets permanently could add thousands of pounds to a vehicle’s weight.
In order to actually move a car fitted with the spherical tyres, the Goodyear designers also envision that each tyre would contain an electric motor and batteries and these could be recharged by wireless induction. Any unused space in the tyre would be filled with rigid foam rather than with pressurised air like the tyres we are used to today.