Michelin Vision concept tyre a Time ’25 Best’ invention

US-based publication Time has chosen the Vision concept tyre from Michelin as one of its ’25 Best inventions of 2017’. In addition to admiring the tyre’s airless structure and use of recycled materials, Time considered the Vision’s “most impressive feature” to be its 3D printed treads, which can be swapped to accommodate varied road conditions without changing the tyre itself. The Vision “certainly makes a compelling case” for how future tyre technology may look, the publication opined.

Commenting on the Vision’s selection, Terry Gettys, global head of research and development for the Michelin Group, stated: “On behalf of Michelin and the many designers and engineers involved in bringing the Vision concept to life, we are honoured to receive this recognition from the editors at Time Magazine.

“We believe the Vision concept is as beautiful as the natural world that inspires it, combining multiple technologies that together project the course for Michelin’s innovation in the years ahead,” Gettys added. “The ideas presented in the Vision concept have taken hold among vehicle designers, demonstrating a feasible vision of how the tire can provide essential contributions to sustainable mobility in the future.”

The Vision concept tyre, introduced earlier this year at Michelin’s Movin’On summit for sustainable mobility in Montréal, combines four technologies: airless, organic, rechargeable and connected.

Airless: The Vision concept is an airless tyre-and-wheel assembly. Michelin describes the concept as “dramatically advancing” the Michelin X Tweel Airless Radial, which itself was selected as one of Time’s ‘Best Inventions’ in 2005 and is now commercially available in North America for specific industrial and low-speed applications.

Organic: The structure is derived from materials that are organic, bio-sourced, renewable and easily recycled for other applications.

Rechargeable: Michelin says this is “perhaps the most intriguing feature” of the Vision. It can be ‘recharged’ on demand with a 3D-printed tread, designed to be customised with biodegradable materials according to the driver’s mobility needs — summer, all-season, winter, on-road, off-road and so on — garages equipped with 3D-printing kiosks. Unlike tyres today, the rechargeable tyre could conceivably last for a vehicle’s entire lifetime.

Connected: A tyre structure that is embedded with sensors capable of detecting road conditions, maintenance requirements, adherence, and other necessary performances that are communicated to the vehicle, or to infrastructure networks on the smart roadways of the future.

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