Usually concept tires aren’t as exciting as concept cars, but Michelin wowed the industry with its visionary concept tire that not only runs airless, it has a brilliant replenishing tread feature. Oh, and it’s connected.
Michelin’s brilliant designers obviously believe tires can be as sexy as cars, and set out to prove it with an ultra-durable, biodegradable, smart-tech concept tire. A honeycomb structure — recycled material that’s fully biodegradable (disposed tires are a critical landfill enviornmental issue) — gives it lightness and strength.
More brilliance: it can be adjusted to road conditions?
The design engineers weren’t content with just being extraordinary. Using 3D printing and smart technology, the tire treads can be replenished, but not just for durability and safety, but to customize tread patterns for road conditions.
From their press kit: “Imagine a future in which your tire is also a wheel: puncture-proof because there is no pressure. Its ruggedness comes from its biomimetic structure, as if it had been created by Nature… A wheel made of recycled materials and which is completely recycled at the end of its life, after having covered thousands and thousands of kilometers — as long as the vehicle itself.”
Intelligent and connected
It’s a given that cars have to be connected. To some extent tires are, via air pressure sensors. But Michelin is planning to engineer a tire that is highly connected in a smart car systems. No air pressure read out is needed, since there is no air, but the tire communicates tread wear, and type of tread pattern recommended for conditions (and even for time of day).
Although the “stations” are not currently available, Michelin envisions a future where you choose your tread, drive on to a 3D tread printer, wait ten minutes, and you have a set of winter tires.