The future of mobility might see an airless tire which is connected, 3D printed and made of recycled and organic composites.
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As the era of driverless cars being the norm approaches, we learn that it’s not just about who’s in control when it comes to mobility. In a development that encompasses two innovations we’ve covered recently, air-free bicycle tires and connected car tires, Michelin have announced a new concept for future tire design.
Showcased at the Movin’On mobility challenges symposium, Vision is the brainchild of Michelin’s R&D team, conceived to not only promote the closed-loop possibilities of sustainable engineering but also how biomimetic design, looking at nature for inspiration, can lead to achievable, implementable products. The tire consists of a branching structure of organic materials, inspired by coral, creating a tire that’s completely airless (Vision is in fact both a wheel and tire), thereby preventing road accidents via blowout. On top of this structure, the tread, a composite of recycled and recyclable materials, can be 3D-printed for both maintenance and road condition purposes; to adjust for a snowy winter, for example. With a driverless car future being a core component of Vision’s design, it’s also going to be connected; issuing warnings via a connected car’s onboard computer system that the tread needs repairing, after which the user can direct the vehicle to a 3D-printing service station for repairs or to adjust the type of tread at the push of a button.
With old tires requiring out-of-the-box thinking to be disposed of, Michelin’s commitment to sustainability is but one example of industry showing that design can lead an eco-friendly and practical paradigm simultaneously. How else can biomimetics show us how to respond to engineering challenges?