New Atlas reports the latest developments in airless tire technology from Michelin, which has been in the works for almost two decades. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares an excerpt from the report: The advantages are pretty clear: First of all, you can never be stopped by a puncture or a flat tire. Second, you don’t have to worry about your tire pressure; this not only saves you time, but also eliminates any premature wear caused by underinflation. Their internal radii are highly adjustable to meet desired performance characteristics. You can individually adjust their stiffness under the forces of acceleration, braking, cornering and handling bumps. The bump handling characteristics can even be adjusted to eliminate the need for a separate suspension in certain types of vehicles. You can punch holes in the tread to let water escape, potentially creating much better resistance to aquaplaning. They require fewer raw materials and less energy to manufacture, which makes them better for the environment, and Michelin has estimated that they will last up to three times longer than a regular old hoop.
They obviously weren’t easy to market, however; 16 and counting is a long and difficult birth for a product that people are clearly interested in. The Tweel, which replaces the entire wheel, has been available for a variety of off-road vehicles for some time, but it has yet to hit the road. Michelin has teamed up with GM to design and start selling an airless tire for road use on passenger cars. Called Uptis, this product is a full wheel solution requiring specialized rims. Michelin claims that it will withstand much greater impacts than a regular tire and wheel, and that it will have a “considerably” longer life span, while adding no additional rolling resistance, feeling no different from the driver and adding only about seven percent to the wheel’s weight – less than existing runflat tires. GM will begin offering Uptis as an option on select models “as early as 2024”, and the partnership is working with US state governments on regulatory approvals for street use, as well as with the federal government.
At the IAA Munich recently, the Uptis airless tire got its first public outing, in which “some lucky people” had the chance to ride in a Mini Electric equipped with a set. By all reports, the experience was about as thrilling as driving with a regular set of tires – that is, not very interesting at all. They didn’t feel different. But that’s kind of the point here, Michelin hopes to bring new and improved technology without any change in the user experience. From where this awkward interview with “Automotive Lifestyle Youtuber Mr JWW” (James Walker).
Michelin airless touring tires get their first public release
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