Tires of the future

  • Dec. 20, 2013
  • Hans Martens

The high performance tire of the future will be very different to the tires we drive on today, if the results of a recent design competition are a guide.

A Hankook Tire competition in the US has challenged some of the country's brightest industrial design students to reinvent the tires of the future looked at from a totally different perspective.

The winning entry by University of Cincinnati student Ben Zavala took the assignment somewhat literally, with his Tiltread car tires rolling into corners at an angle like a motorcycle tire. Zavala's breakthrough idea was to split the tire into three parallel ring sections, each mounted onto a corresponding split section of the wheel. As the wheel turns and leans, the three tire sections are individually raised or lowered, allowing them all to maintain traction with the road surface. Tiltread's wheels are hubless and contain an electric drive motor which varies in power in each tire section, allowing the sections to spin through corners at different speeds.

University of Cincinnati associate professor Ralph Zammit said the competition demonstrated just how great an impact improvement in tire design could have upon the overall efficiency, ecology and economy of road transportation. "Hankook proposed a very challenging assignment that provided the students with real-world insights as to how tires are currently designed, manufactured and the performance issues they must address," said associate professor Zammit. "Students were especially encouraged to consider sustainability needs such as reducing and reusing raw materials."

Second place in the competition was taken by Mark Hearn who invented an off-road tire called Motiv, which features numerous height-variable, non-pneumatic tread blocks that can adapt to extremely rough terrain without risk of blow-out.

Third-placed Miranda Steinhauser's proposal for an eco-friendly tire also impressed the competition judges. The Tessela tire's easily removable tread components allow consumers to replace worn-out treads when required, rather than the whole tire carcass, reducing tire waste and landfill.


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