Goodyear Tires has just shown off a new concept tire that you don't need to change. Instead of replacing it when the tread is worn down, you put a new rubber capsule in it and new tread comes out like a Keurig for your car. It's one of a few new tire concepts that could change the way the rubber meets the road, so here are three ways that the future could revolutionize your contact patch.
The new Goodyear concept is called reCharge, and the company calls it a self-regenerating tire. The core concept of the idea is a reloadable and biodegradable tread compound. It's made from biological rubbers and reinforced with spider silk, one of the toughest natural materials in the world.
Because the liquid tread is reloadable, Goodyear says that it can customize the tire to the driver and that the driver can pick a compound for how they want to drive. The liquid is extruded through the lightweight frame of the tire, like a Play-Doh press for the road. It's not an instant change, but it would let you swap capsules for winter and summer, to trade fuel economy for traction, or be otherwise tailored to you based on sensors in the tire that monitor your driving profile.
While the extruded tread might be a little too far in the future, the biological material rubbers and silk reinforcements are not. Tire companies are working to reduce the amount of petroleum and other non-eco-friendly materials that go into tires. The airless technology is also one that always seems to be just around the corner.
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Michelin Uptis Airless Tire
Michelin is one of the latest companies to present an airless tire. The Uptis (unique puncture-proof tire system), which we looked at late last year, is puncture proof and comes from previous Michelin airless ideas. Instead of air, a lattice of proprietary and more sustainable materials links the surface and the wheel, absorbing impacts using the spring-like inner structure instead of pressurized air. Michelin says that 200 million tires are scrapped each year because of puncture and pressure issues, which this could help prevent. That means no worries about flat tires or potholes. Production is expected to start by 2024, with the tire company working with General Motors to put it on production cars.
ContiAdapt Concept Tire
Finally, Continental is looking at the opposite of airless. The ContiAdapt concept tire uses air to its advantage instead of casting it aside. The tire has three different tread zones, with one for wet, one for slippery, and one for dry surfaces. Another concept technology called ContiSense uses a conductive rubber that sends signals from a sensor in the tire to the car. It monitors tread depth and temperature for safety, but it can also detect changes in road surface.
ContiAdapt puts what Continental calls micro-compressors in a special wheel that can adjust the rim to be wider or narrower. It can then adjust the tire pressure and rim width in real time. If ContiSense detects dry pavement, higher pressure and a narrower rim give lower rolling resistance and better fuel economy. If it's slippery, the tire will widen the patch and lower pressure. For deep snow and black ice, the tire can operate at ultra-low pressures, as low as 14 psi, for extra grip. Adapting the pressure and width also puts the proper bit of rubber for the conditions on the road surface, maximizing the tradeoff between grip and fuel economy.