Tires were first created on a commercial level in 1888. We’ve made some changes since then but we still use the same basic shape after all these years.
And really that shape has been used since the earliest wheels invented… stone, wooden wagon wheels, etc. Maybe there’s a better way? Goodyear thinks so!
Earlier this month Goodyear announced a very cool concept designed specifically for autonomous self driving cars (which are closer to being widely available than you may think… there will be millions on the roads by 2020 according to Business Insider)
What’s so great about the spherical tire design?
So what’s this tire concept and what makes it so cool? Goodyear is calling it the Eagle-360. It’s perfectly round on all sides and incorporates magnetic levitation to support the vehicle!
The tires are designed to be 3D printed, and Goodyear says one of benefit of this shape is that more surface area is touching the ground at any given time. That means more control, maneuverability and safety.
It’ll also contribute to a smoother ride, which is always a good thing.
You’re probably thinking, “that’s it?? safer and a little smoother?”
Hold on, it gets better. Each tire can roll in any direction. It’ll allow for 360 degree turning! You can show off to friends, or use it to have a much easier time getting into a tight parking space! Cars can park much closer together if everybody has this technology.
Your car will be supported by magnetic levitation!
We hinted at this earlier and you’re probably curious about exactly what we’re talking about. Don’t worry, here’s the deal…
The 4 tires use a magnetic field to suspend the car above. The softly floats above the wheels. Pretty futuristic right?
But is this far-fetched and unlikely to work?
MagLev technology is already used in existing transportation- trains! So Goodyear is confident it can work. It’s going to result in a quieter and smoother ride, since the passenger compartment will not be physically touching the ground.
How does it all connect and is it safe?
Is the Eagle-360 design safe? Well, it’s just a concept/design at this point. We’d say it’s viable. It’s potentially safe. But testing and fine-tuning are obviously needed. Nothing like this comes out perfect on the first try which is why prototypes and years of testing will probably be needed.
Here’s what we know about how it connects and communicates though, in terms of safety and functionality:
First, sensors inside each tire analyze and measure road conditions. Weather, road surface conditions, etc. A computer system communicates all of this, from each of the Eagle-360 tires, to the car’s main computer AND other cars nearby! So a single computer in your car will be able to make adjustments to keep you safe based on all of this data.
Adding an additional layer of safety is Goodyear’s proprietary tread wear and pressure monitoring. You’ll be notified if something is wrong with any of the tires themselves, and the system can make minor adjustments based on wear and tear to extend the life of the tires too.
Other interesting features
For one, since it’s 3D printed, Goodyear claims that buyers of the Eagle-360 tires will be able to get custom tread specifically for their region. Does your home get snow and ice? Is it hilly or completely flat? Are heavy tropical rainstorms frequent? All of these factors might determine what type of tire tread you wanted printed onto your set.
One more really cool fact- inspired by nature, the tread design mimics brain coral, meaning multi-directional blocks and grooves help maintain steady contact with the road in all conditions. Think of the grooved tire surface as a natural sponge. It is stiff when its surface is dry, and becomes soft when driving in wet conditions to maintain control on slippery roads and avoid hydroplaning (when a thin layer of water forms between the tire and road surface, causing temporary loss of control).