Goodyear's Eagle-360 spherical concept tyre uses biomimicry to inspire its brain-like tread pattern
Goodyear has unveiled its latest concept tyre, the Eagle-360, and it’s one of the more radical departures from traditional tyre design; it is a sphere. The 3-D printed model presents a long-term vision of future mobility, in which autonomous driving is expected to be more mainstream.
According to a recent study from Navigant Research, 85 million autonomous-capable vehicles are expected to be sold annually around the world by 2035 (‘Navigant Research, Advanced Drive Assistance Systems and the Evolution of Self Driving Functionality: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts‘). Looking at the present view of self-driving vehicles, the JD Power 2015 US Tech Choice Study shows that consumers are most concerned with ensuring safety through technology in autonomous cars. (The 2015 US Tech Choice Study was fielded in January through March 2015 and is based on an online survey of more than 5,300 consumers who purchased/leased a new vehicle in the past five years.) Goodyear’s Eagle-360 shows the manufacturer’s vision for how tyres might play a part in delivering greater safety assurance, therefore opening up increased markets for autonomous vehicles.
“By steadily reducing the driver interaction and intervention in self-driving vehicles, tyres will play an even more important role as the primary link to the road,” said Joseph Zekoski, Goodyear’s senior vice president and chief technical officer. “Goodyear’s concept tires play a dual role in the future both as creative platforms to push the boundaries of conventional thinking and as testbeds for next-generation technologies.”
Improved manoeuvrability and safety
Goodyear says the Eagle-360’s shape could contribute to safety and manoeuvrability to match the demands of autonomous mobility. As the multi-orientation tyres would move in all directions, they would be able to reduce sliding from potential hazards such as black ice or sudden obstacles, contributing to greater passenger safety. The shape could also improve ride comfort, providing a smooth ride by creating a fluid, lateral movement. A car could move around an obstacle without changing its driving direction.
Turning 360 degrees – which would be possible on spherical tyres – could also help motorists tackle anticipated parking constrictions; less space will be needed to pull into parking spots. Assuming public parking areas play the same role, Goodyear adds that this could significantly increase the capacity of public parking areas without increasing their size.
One of the more science-fiction inspired elements of the Eagle-360 comes with its connection with the car; it would be fitted without physically touching it, using magnetic levitation. The tyre would be suspended from the car by magnetic fields, similar to magnetic levitation trains, which increase passenger comfort and reduces noise.
“Though this is purely a concept tyre, it showcases some of Goodyear’s best innovative thinking and how the needs of future drivers can be addressed. Based on our own recent research [‘Goodyear and Think Good Mobility: Millennials Views on the Future of Mobility in Europe‘], we know that young drivers are looking for smart and sustainable cars to be part of future mobility and that reliability and safety are key for them. We believe the Eagle-360 concept tyre could deliver a safe and sustainable solution for our end consumer who is likely to drive or ride in autonomous cars in the future,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, president of Goodyear EMEA. “We also hope it serves as inspiration for the automotive industry as we continue to find solutions for the future, together.”
Sensors for connectivity, safety
Goodyear added that the Eagle-360’s connectivity would optimise the tyre’s safety features. Sensors inside the tyre register the road conditions, including weather and road surface conditions, and communicate this information to the car as well as to other vehicles to enhance safety. Goodyear’s tread wear and pressure monitoring technology would allow sensors in the Eagle-360 to register and regulate the wear of the tyre to extend mileage. Finally, because the tread is produced by a 3-D printer, customising the tyre based on the region where the driver lives is a new possibility, Goodyear states.
The Eagle-360’s futuristic look doesn’t just owe to its shape; the tyre’s tread pattern has been designed to imitate nature. Biomimicry is, the tyre manufacturer states, a principle Goodyear often uses in its designs. The tread mimics the pattern of brain coral, with multidirectional blocks and grooves producing a safe contact patch. The groove bottom has the same elements as a natural sponge, which stiffens when dry yet softens when wet to deliver adequate driving performance and aquaplaning resistance. This texture also absorbs water on the road and ejects water from the tire footprint through centrifugal force to reduce the risk of aquaplaning.
Goodyear is displaying its concept tyre on Stand 2056, Hall 2 at the Geneva International Motor Show.
Category: Product News