One giant leap for Michelin. The French tyre maker has taken on the challenge to develop an airless tyre to equip the future Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV). It is working on this project in conjunction with the team formed by Northrop Grumman within the framework of a tender from NASA last November. The aim for the Michelin R&D teams is to make a tyre capable of resisting the extreme conditions at the lunar pole in order to explore the lunar surface and allow a sustainable presence on the Moon in 2025, and ultimately on Mars.
Airless tyres are increasingly finding favour as a potential solution for autonomous vehicles as well as for delivery applications. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has ticked both boxes with the non-pneumatic tyre (NPT) it has developed and is testing to support Starship delivery robots.
The prototype Uptis airless tyre fitted to the Mini Electric at this month’s IAA Mobility 2021 was “unanimously approved,” says Michelin. This lofty claim is hard to verify, however, the French firm does provide some evidence in a short video featuring automotive influencer Mr JWW and enigmatic car enthusiast Gercollector.
It is, says Goodyear Tire & Rubber, an industry first – a local transportation authority in the USA is field-testing the non-pneumatic tyre and wheel assembly the tyre maker developed for autonomous urban vehicles. The lessons learned will contribute towards the further development of maintenance-free tyres.
Kumho’s next generation e-NIMF and e-TOPS tyres have been honoured with 2020 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). Having already received iF and Red Dot accolades in February and March respectively, has now won three of the world’s top design awards in the same year.
A new study from market research firm Global Market Insights expects the airless tyre market to surpass 139,000 units by 2024. The researcher said that stimulated production of military and heavy commercial vehicles in the Asia Pacific region would boost the segment. Also backed by urbanisation trends in the region, Global Market Insights estimates that APAC will account for more than 34 per cent of the global market by 2024.
Bridgestone is making its first-ever appearance at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The company is using an interactive display to demonstrate its mobility solutions for current mobility and future autonomous vehicles. They focus on extended mobility, improved safety and increased efficiency.
A new prototype wheel technology showcased at the Movin’On sustainable mobility summit this week promises to put an end to punctures, spare tyres (or that awful can of repair foam lurking in the bowels of your car’s boot) and regular tyre pressure checks. It’s called the Michelin Uptis Prototype – short for ‘Unique Punctureproof Tire System’. The tyre/rim combination builds upon the Michelin Tweel technology used in lawncare and industrial applications, and Michelin stresses it is more than merely a concept.
For the past 11 years, Toyo Tire & Rubber has engaged in research into the viability of airless tyres that deliver comparable performance to their pneumatic counterparts. The Japanese manufacturer first presented a prototype product at the Automotive Engineering Expo in May 2012 to demonstrate what it had achieved since 2006. Toyo Tires says it has since made “fundamental changes” to the structure of its airless tyres and has resolved various issues. The resulting improvements, it adds, are “substantial” and allow practical driving upon the latest generation of tyres. The company recently released its latest generation of airless concept tyre, the ‘noair’.
Bridgestone has announced its aim of bringing airless tyres to market by 2019, however don’t expect to find them in sizes suitable for your car. The commercialisation of the company’s Air Free Concept, which was first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2013, will begin with a non-pneumatic bicycle tyre. Together with Bridgestone Cycle Co., Ltd, Bridgestone Corporation has developed what it calls a “next-generation bicycle tyre” as part of the Air Free project, and now plans to undertake feasibility studies ahead of a market launch.
Hankook Tire has reported the successful high speed testing of its iFlex non-pneumatic tyre. The South Korean company has been developing the iFlex concept since 2011, and recently fitted its latest generation prototype tyre to a Kia Ray electric car in order to evaluate its performance at speed. The iFlex-shod Ray was driven through a slalom course at up to 130 km/h (80mph), and the tyre maker states that its airless tyre performed perfectly in all safety and durability tests.
Michelin’s Tweel factory has opened in Piedmont, South Carolina, USA, manufacturing airless tyres for commercial applications. From Piedmont, Michelin will boost output of its X Tweel SSL skid-steer tyres and begin production of the new X Tweel Turf as original equipment for John Deere’s Ztrak 900 Series line-up of zero-turn commercial mowers. The 135,000sqft facility is Michelin’s 10th in the state, and 16th in the US. The company said it would invest about $50 million in the new plant.