Ever since the pneumatic tyre was invented, motorists have had to live with the possibility of the air inside leaking out due to being punctured by a nail or damage from hitting a pothole. Loss of air pressure, which is what keeps the tyre in its hard shape to roll along, means the tyre cannot be used and has to be replaced. Not something you want when you are on the way to a meeting or a holiday resort.
Various solutions have been developed over the years which try to keep the tyre usable even when the air is gone. Run-flat tyres are capable of continuing even when deflated, though at limited speeds and for a limited distance. Obviously, they need to be replaced or repaired as soon as possible.
More specialised tyres for off-road use have flexible foam inside which can maintain the tyre shape even when air has leaked out.
Regenerating the tread
Now Goodyear is taking another approach with a prototype tyre it calls recharge. This is reloadable and has a tread compound that can be recharged with individual capsules, radically simplifying the process of replacing your tyres.
Filled with a customized liquid compound, these capsules allow the tread to regenerate and the tyre to adapt over time to climatic circumstances, road conditions, or simply how you want to travel. Thanks to artificial intelligence, a driver profile would be created around which the liquid compound would be customized, generating a compound blend tailored to each individual.
The compound itself would be made from a biological material and would be reinforced with fibres inspired by one of the toughest natural materials in the world – spider silk. This would make it both extremely durable and 100% biodegradable.
No maintenance needed
In addition to radically simplifying the process of replacing tyres using the rechargeable capsules, the tread would be supported by a lightweight, non-pneumatic frame and tall-and-narrow shape. This is a thin, robust low-maintenance construction that would eliminate the need for pressure maintenance or downtime related to punctures.
“Goodyear wants the tyre to be an even more powerful contributor to answering consumers’ specific mobility needs,” said Mike Rytokoski, Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Goodyear Europe, “It was with that ambition that we set out to create a concept tyre primed for the future of personalized and convenient electric mobility.”
Recharge is just a concept for now although it could become one of the features of tyres of the future. Only thing is, if the tread can be regenerated, then the tyres doesn’t need to be replaced. That’s good for the environment but is it going to be good for company business?