The tire of the future may also power the cars of the future

Do you happen to remember the2004 Audi RSQ concept? Well, if you don’t, let me refresh your memory. It was the same car driven by Will Smith early on in the film iRobot as he battled a number of really pissed off robots. The whole RSQ vs. Robots scene was pretty spectacular, but did you notice how the RSQ and those large robot haulers were able to move in almost any direction? In one scene, as the first robot hauler passes the Audi RSQ you can see it rides on these large Spherical tires, and it’s safe to assume that RSQ had the same time of tire hidden behind the metal. It only took 12 years, but at the 86th Geneva International Motor show, GoodYear debuted its concept of the Eagle GT-360 – the tire that the RSQ and those robot haulers needed for unlimited maneuverability.

Along with a conceptual model, Goodyear also released some futuristic specs on the tire that may change the way cars roll, at least until they start flying anyway. Basically, the design is based on the concept of self-driving cars and will allow unlimited maneuverability with an equipped car able to move in all directions. According to Goodyear, this would contribute to safety for passengers and cope with space limitations such as tight parking spaces. Furthermore, the tires would have embedded sensors to communicate road and weather conditions to the vehicle and other vehicles on the road. The sensors would also monitor and regulate tread wear evenly to increase the life of the tire.

Another major feature of the concept is the 3D printed tread and its design. It is printed to mimic the pattern of brain coral and is able to behave like a sponge. Basically, it can stiffen in dry conditions and soften when wet for better performance and aquaplaning resistance. That’s cool and all, but how exactly will the tires be driven and how will they connect to the car? Well, we asked those questions too, so keep reading to find out what we think.

Keep reading for the rest of the story

Magnetic Levitation

Goodyear's Eagle-360 Tire Concept
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There is a little more to this tire concept that you might think at first glance. When the conceptual tire made its debut in Geneva, Goodyear supplemented it with a press release. In that release, the company said that the tires would be connected to the car via magnetic levitation: “The tires would rely on a magnetic levitation system to suspend the car resulting in a smooth, quiet ride for the passenger.” This would work the same way a permanent magnet levitates over a superconductor. In this case, the car would be the permanent magnet (or have permanent magnets inside the "sphere arches,") and the Eagle GT-360 tires would be the superconductors.

It’s Really Like a Hampster in a Ball

Goodyear's Eagle-360 Tire Concept
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So, we know that the car will actually levitate above the wheels, but that still leaves a serious question: How will the tires be driven? What I think we’re looking at is more than just a rubber sphere. Considering the tires are actually levitating the car, I was able to come to an interesting conclusion. The car won’t send power to the wheels at all. Instead, the wheels will be power source behind vehicle movement. To put it simply, think of a hamster in a ball – he can go whichever way he wants, right? Well, engineers could apply the same idea to the Eagle GT-360 and put motors inside of the tire – allowing the GT-360 to effectively move the car via that magnetic levitation.

Further Thinking

Goodyear's Eagle-360 Tire Concept
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The way I see it, each tire would be equipped with a motor and a battery pack. When the car is parked the magnetic levitation will cease and the vehicle itself will sit down onto the ground smoothly. From there inductive charging will recharge the battery pack in each tire. When it’s time to roll out, the tires are turned on, the vehicle begins to levitate, and you enjoy your smooth ride to work.

These tires were built with self-driving cars in mind – like the Audi RSQ Concept – so you can imagine what a tire like this could do for parking and vehicle storage. Instead of finding a parking spot at work, you pull up out front, get out, and the car parks itself. The beauty, however, is that the lanes in the parking lots and spaces can be much closer together, saving space and creating more parks spots, and leaving you to worry about things other than a long walk from the car or an unfriendly co-worker keying your baby because you send out too many memos.

Conclusion


Okay, so I’m thinking a little into the future on this one, but you can see the concept certainly has its merits. If you click play on the video above, you’ll see Goodyear UK’s video of how the Eagle GT-360 could revolutionize the way cars drive in the future. Surely, we’re years away from something like this becoming a reality, but eventually battery technology and electric motor technology will advance enough that this concept could be ideal. Just think, someday you may be buying new tread for your cars levitating balls instead of buying new tires. It might not work out so well for those of you who like to off-road, but for those who want a smooth ride and widely improved maneuverability, it’s definitely something to look forward to. Self-driving cars are coming sooner or later, and I bet something like the Eagle GT-360 will too.

Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering about how a motorized sphere could work, the technology is already here – just look at the Sphero 2.0 robot. Speaking of which, a design like that, just larger would mean we could drive our cars from our smartphones. Hey why not, we already do everything else with them, right?

Press Release

Futuristic tire technologies showcased at Geneva International Motor Show
Spherical-shaped Eagle-360 concept highlights maneuverability, connectivity
IntelliGrip concept’s advanced sensor technology could make vehicles even safer

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, March 1, 2016 –The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has revealed two innovative new concept tires at the 86th Geneva International Motor Show that could literally reshape the future for autonomous cars.

The concepts: the spherical-shaped Eagle-360 - a future-oriented tire - was designed with key features of maneuverability, connectivity and biomimicry for autonomous mobility, while the IntelliGrip, featuring advanced sensor and treadwear technology, is a solution for the earlier adoption of self-driving vehicles.

Both tires are designed with safety in mind, which according to recent studies, is a key concern among consumers around autonomous vehicles. They reflect Goodyear’s focus on anticipating the rapidly evolving needs of its customers.

“By steadily reducing the driver interaction and intervention in self-driving vehicles, tires will play an even more important role as the primary link to the road,” said Joseph Zekoski, Goodyear’s senior vice president and chief technical officer. “Goodyear’s concept tires play a dual role in that future both as creative platforms to push the boundaries of conventional thinking and testbeds for next-generation technologies.”

Additional details on the two concept tires:

Goodyear Eagle-360

The Goodyear Eagle-360 is a spherical-shaped design concept tire that would provide self-driving cars ultimate maneuverability, connectivity and biomimicry to increase safety.

Maneuverability: The multi-orientation of the spherical-shaped tire allows the car to move in all directions, contributing to safety for passengers, as well as coping with space limitations such as tight parking lots or city streets.
Connectivity: Embedded sensors further increase safety by communicating road and weather conditions to the vehicle control system and other nearby cars, while tread and tire pressure monitoring technology regulate even wear of the 360-degree tire to extend mileage.
Connected via magnetic levitation: The tires would rely on a magnetic levitation system to suspend the car resulting in a smooth, quiet ride for the passenger.
Biomimicry: Inspired by nature, the 3D printed tread mimics the pattern of brain coral and behaves like a natural sponge – designed to stiffen in dry conditions and soften when wet to deliver excellent driving performance and aquaplaning resistance.

Goodyear IntelliGrip

The Goodyear IntelliGrip concept tire is designed to communicate with autonomous vehicle control systems, sensing road surface and weather conditions for improved driving safety and performance.

Senses road conditions: Thanks to its advanced sensor technology and specially designed tread, the concept tire can sense many road conditions, including both surface and weather conditions.
Active-wear technology: The IntelliGrip also uses advanced active wear technology to assess the condition of the tire and the vehicle.
Custom algorithms: Goodyear-developed algorithms account for variables such as inflation pressure and tire temperature.
Adapting to road conditions: When the tire senses a rainy or slippery road surface, the autonomous vehicle will adapt its speed. Additionally, the tire can shorten the stopping distance, provide a better cornering response, optimize stability and even support collision prevention systems.
Technology adaption: Goodyear is working with a number of vehicle manufacturers to further adapt this technology to their needs, enhancing connectivity with features such as Electronic Stability Control Systems, Brake Control Systems and Suspension Control Systems.

Although these tires are future concepts, Zekoski says they represent an essential aspect of Goodyear’s innovation strategy and its vision for smart and safe mobility.

Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs about 66,000 people and manufactures its products in 49 facilities in 22 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate/.

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