Tire Technology Of The Future

Posted: Nov 13 2018, 10:15am CST | by , in Cars & Vehicles


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Tire Technology of the Future
Image: Hankook

Technology is rapidly changing cars, from touch screens to driverless sensors. But one place that the impact sometimes goes unnoticed is the tires. From airless to foam, here's how technology is changing the tire.

Tires have changed a lot since cars first came onto the scene in 1888. Tires started as solid forms of rubber, but only worked well on slow-speed vehicles because they didn't absorb any bumps or shocks the car might experience, making for a very bumpy ride. Tires today are made of thick rubber, augmented with steel belts and filled with air, but that might be changing soon. Let's look at some new, emerging technologies that could improve the way we use our tires in the future.

Airless Tires

The U.S. military has been looking at airless radial tires for use on their vehicles for years. These tires are still rubber, but instead of needing inflation, they rely on a series of internal rubber or plastic spokes to support the weight of the car.

With these tires, you'll never need to worry about getting stranded with a flat. A nail or a screw in your tire will remain there until you remove it. While this can be a boon for the average driver, it can be an absolute blessing for any industry that uses heavy equipment where a flat tire could result in costly downtime. It also reduces the need for tire replacement and recycling, which is much better for the environment.

Foam Tires

A quick search for foam tires might only show you options for remote-controlled cars or other toys, but there are growing applications for vehicles, heavy equipment and many other tools. Foam tires look like regular tires on the outside, but their interior consists of polyurethane foam, which makes them puncture-proof. They are currently best to use on heavy equipment like skid loaders because they prevent jobsite downtime that can result from a flat tire, especially on unfinished jobsites that might be a minefield of rocks, screws, pieces of rebar or other things that could easily puncture a tire.

Sense and Adapt

Continental is working on a line of high-tech tires that could keep you from getting stranded by first monitoring the health of your tires, and then by adapting to your unique driving conditions.

The material in these self-monitoring tires will include "electrically conductive rubber compounds" that sense the health and condition of the tire. It takes the existing electronic tire pressure sensor, which tracks the air pressure in each tire electronically, to a whole new level.

The adapting tires will work by using micro-compressors and an ultra-wide rim to adjust the tire pressure, depending on the driving conditions. For dry roads, higher tire pressure creates a smaller and more efficient rolling surface, which improves fuel efficiency. For driving on wet or slick surfaces, lower tire pressure means a larger grip surface that provides more traction.

While most of these new advances in tire technology won't be showing up in your local tire shop for a while, they are starting to change the way we look at tires. We rely on our tires daily to get us anywhere we need to go, and they are long overdue for an upgrade.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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