Are Goodyear’s mag-lev spherical tires the future?
Goodyear has thrown out the rulebook for tire design and has, literally, reinvented the wheel.
The tire of the future may well, according to the manufacturer, look like a giant squash ball and will be driven by magnetic levitation. Unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, it’s called the Eagle-360 and Goodyear reckons this futuristic tire will make autonomous cars safer.
Check out the video:
It’s still a little too early for April Fools’ Day, so we’re going to assume Goodyear is serious about this.
Why a spherical tire?
The obvious advantage of a spherical tire that is propelled and controlled (and, importantly, stopped) using magnetic energy is that the tire is free to travel in any direction — as becomes clear towards the end of the video above. That means it can turn on a dime (and spells the death of parallel parking as we know it).
Goodyear reckons passenger comfort would be dramatically increased and road noise reduced, as there’s less friction and vibration travelling through the vehicle. After all, the tire is not joined to another tire, and therefore the road, by an axle.
A spherical tire is also a whole new world in tire design. Sensors in the tires read the road conditions and can even communicate that to other vehicles nearby. The design of the tire itself has been inspired by nature. Goodyear says the 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.” The tire also has self-diagnostics that tell it when to rotate so it is not wearing down one section of rubber.
OK, so is this actually real?
Before any wheel and rim dealers freak out too much about the death of their industry, Goodyear’s new tire design, the Eagle-360 is still just a concept. Goodyear’s senior vice president and chief technical officer Joseph Zekoski said it represents “an essential aspect of Goodyear’s innovation strategy and its vision for smart and safe mobility.”
“Goodyear’s concept tires play a dual role in that future both as creative platforms to push the boundaries of conventional thinking and test-beds for next-generation technologies,” he said.
They’re just a concept. We’re still some way off from driving around on mag-lev squash balls, so don’t worry about buying a spherical tire-changer just yet.