Tyres double as propellers for flying car

Riley Riley

Here’s a great way of grabbing a headline.

With an eye to the future, Goodyear has released a tyre designed, it says, for the autonomous, flying cars of the future.

The AERO is designed to work both as a tyre for driving on the road and as a “propeller” for flying through the sky.

The AERO concept incorporates a number of innovative features:

  • Multimodal Design: The AERO is a multi-modal tilt-rotor concept. It would serve as a drive train to transfer and absorb forces to and from the road in a traditional orientation and an aircraft propulsion system to provide lift in another orientation.
  • Non-Pneumatic Structure: The spokes would provide support to carry the weight of the vehicle and act as fan blades to provide lift when the tyre is tilted. This unique airless tyre uses a non-pneumatic structure that is flexible enough to dampen shocks when driving on the road, and strong enough to rotate at the high speeds necessary for the rotors to create vertical lift.
  • Magnetic Propulsion: The concept would use magnetic force to provide frictionless propulsion. This would enable the high rotating speeds required to drive the vehicle on the ground and, when the wheel is tilted, lift a vehicle into the air and propel it forward.
  • Optical Sensing: The tyre would use light-based, fibre optic sensors to monitor road conditions, tyre wear and the structural integrity of the tyre itself.
  • Artificial Intelligence: The concept would also feature an embedded A.I. processor that would combine information from the tyre’s sensors with data from vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. The A.I. processor would analyse these streams of data to recommend a course of action – allowing a vehicle to adapt to a flying or driving mode – and identify and resolve potential tyre-related issues before they happen.

“For over 120 years Goodyear has obsessively pursued innovations and inventions, partnering with the pioneers driving change and discovery in transport,” Goodyear’s Chief Technology Officer, Chris Helsel, said.

“With mobility companies looking to the sky for the answer to the challenges of urban transport and congestion, our work on advanced tyre architectures and materials led us to imagine a wheel that could serve both as a traditional tyre on the road and as a propulsion system in the sky.”

While the AERO is no more than a concept at this stage, some of its technologies, such as a non-pneumatic structure and intelligent tyre capabilities, are being developed now by Goodyear, while others might become the basis for new ideas and potentially new products in the future.

“Goodyear’s concepts are meant to trigger a debate on the tyres and transport technologies for a new mobility ecosystem,” Helsel added.



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