The tire of the future is here. Well, almost.
While most new technologies are not available yet for the general public, they are still being tested and improved daily. Soon enough, the below-mentioned tires will be able to conquer the world one mile at a time.
But, what does that mean for us, the consumers?
To put it simply: less waste, better fuel economy, no damage, better performance, etc.
However, in order for these special tires to reach the market, they have to undergo rigorous testing.
Are these tires safe to use? Do they offer sustainable mobility? Will they hold the required PSI? Are they truly puncture-proof? Will their maintenance cost more than what it's worth? - these are all good questions brands must answer before their models are even considered for approval for highway applications.
Therefore, even if these tires of the future are not available yet, let's take a look at what the industry is planning for up-and-coming vehicles.
Tire Manufacturers of the Future
Conventional tires for passenger vehicles and SUVs need specific tire pressure levels to properly function. However, these old tires will be a vision of the past soon enough. Major manufacturers always try to stay one step ahead of the market needs.
The competition between them has also helped to push tire technologies forward. Every design and manufacturing aspect needs to be considered in order for a company to succeed in such a competitive market. From the raw material used in production to the computer technologies utilized by their design teams, all manufacturing teams must work to create prototypes that can pass safety testing.
So, what will these and other manufacturers have to do to stay in the game?
In the next few years, every company that wishes to stay relevant in the tire industry will need to provide more durable tire models. Puncture resistance, performing safety on versatile road conditions, and even PSI levels are just some of the improvements tire brands will need to make.
With the innovations made with car production - mainly with electric vehicles - tire manufacturers must also strive to improve their products.
Zero Change of a Flat Tire
Some technologies are already available that prevent passenger cars from being stranded on the road. A damaged tire is often a nightmare to deal with, that is why most manufacturers strive towards creating puncture-resistant tires.
These technologies are already in use with new tires that are being produced currently. Pirelli's special self-sealing models or any run flat manufactured are basically airless designs in a way.
Run Flat Tires
Run flat or run on flat tires are models which can be driven on for 50 miles after pressurized air leaves the model. They have a speed limit of 50 miles. Once air pressure loss occurs and the tire is driven that way, it cannot be fixed.
Self-sealing tires are a relatively new innovation. They have a sticky substance on the inner lining of their tread. When they get punctures, the substance seals up punctures up to 1/4 inches in diameter. They prevent PSI levels from lowering and guarantee the tire's maintained performance.
What to Expect: Tires of the Future?
The automotive industry is versatile. Therefore, tires of the future also have to offer the same adaptability. They must provide the best possible rolling resistance, road noise levels, necessary road surface traction, tire wear, and natural rubber materials in order to be considered as a good option.
However, tire brands must further enhance their manufacturing technologies. They must provide innovative tires for passenger cars and trucks - not to mention bigger car models.
Production has started on airless tires. Various tire brands have created their own airless prototype. These tires are designed in a way that they do not need air pressure to withstand the weight of the car, its passengers, and its load.
Their "internal structure" features spokes that maintain the ideal tire shape necessary. These spokes and the tire's footprint work together to ensure surface contact throughout the drive.
Goodyear airless tires are already being manufactured for various cars. These are not just a prototype anymore. You can actually purchase them for specific vehicles. However, special wheels are also needed for them. Yet, we can be sure that the automotive industry will accomodate such tires when become available for the general public.
You can also buy a set of Michelin airless tires as their production started in 2014. They are called the Michelin Uptis. On the positive side, these models do not need to be inflated. Rumor has it that these tires last at least three times as long as conventional models. Kiss punctures and other external damage goodbye with this airless tire, since the Michelin Uptis is able to prevent all such problems.
Bridgestone has created a prototype for environmentally friendly tires as well. Their second-generation airless concept design was revealed in 2013, but sadly they are not available for cars yet. Still, we are certain that this airless tire design will be widely used within the next few decades, since it is both cost-effective and damage resistant.
Natural rubber components can be hard to come by. Their carbon footprint is inevitable when it is used for tire production. Additionally, vehicles are also harmful to the environment with their CO2 emissions and fuel usage.
For this reason, tire brands are trying to combat their pollution by making environmentally friendly tires available for every vehicle model.
Tire Charging Electric Vehicles
Goodyear presented their tire model which is able to generate electricity for electric cars. This tire features a tread pattern that turns the heat build-up into electricity. It eliminates the fear of the battery running out and the vehicle stopping in the most unconventional circumstances.
Goodyear has also created its Oxygene concept tire in 2018. This tire features living moss growing in its open sidewall structure. The open tread design gathers moisture for the moss, which in turn creates oxygen. The idea behind this model was to lower air pollution.
3D Printed Tires
Michelin is at it again by bringing 3D printing into the industry. Their special 3D printed tire prototype, the Vision concept, was presented in 2017 at the Movin'On conference in Montreal. These Michelin tires would have an interesting coral-inspired design, which is printed with bio-sourced materials, including natural rubber among others.
Artificial Intelligence and Tires
This Goodyear prototype was introduced in 2017. It was named the Eagle 360 Urban, which was made for vehicles without drivers. This is a 3D printed sphere which is controlled by artificial intelligence. While this design will not be used in everyday driving for a while, Goodyear has shown what innovations we can expect in the future.