The future of mobility might see an airless tire which is connected, 3D printed and made of recycled and organic composites.
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?