Goodyear unveils new tire technology in Geneva

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Goodyear wants to fly even higher with "spring tires' designed for lunar exploration. Image: Dave Hamster/Flickr CC-BY

Wheel-giant Goodyear will be be showing some new concepts for the world’s oldest invention at the Geneva Motor Show this week. In addition to a self-inflating model, the company plans to unveil a revolutionary tire filled with springs for use on extraterrestrial surfaces.

Cutting edge tires

Goodyear’s research and development teams have been working overtime as the tire maker seeks cutting edge solutions to meet the changing needs of the automotive industry.

Goodyear’s senior vice president and chief technical officer Jean-Claude Kihn said:

“Goodyear has always been proactive in research and development, and we are looking forward to displaying a range of innovations that people will never have seen before. These technologies have been specifically developed to meet the ever-changing requirements of modern consumers and society focused on performance, sustainability, the environment and convenience.”

Environmentally conscious

Goodyear is working to meet the challenge of reducing the global dependence on petroleum. One of the tires on display in Geneva is made of “BioIsopren,” a bio-based material used to replace the petroleum-based isoprene used in most modern tires.

Also in the interest of reducing fossil fuel consumption, Goodyear will show off its Air Maintenance Technology, a self-inflating tire system that can help reduce fuel consumption by self-regulating tire pressure.

According to Kihn:

“Consumers often overlook the importance of maintaining proper tire pressure. We believe this technology will have immediate positive impact for drivers in terms of performance and for the environment through improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and extended tire life. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging to the point that we are now ready to demonstrate it in Geneva for the first time.”

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‘Spring tire’ may go to the moon

The new “spring tire,” developed in association with the The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is a concept designed for use on the moon or other extraterrestrial surfaces. It also may find some takers for use in the harshest areas on our home-planet.

The spring tire is so-named because it contains 800 springs. It is designed to carry heavy loads over the most rugged terrains for long distances. In 1971, Goodyear also designed the wire-mesh tires used on the the Lunar Roving Vehicle in the Apollo moon missions. The new tires, says Goodyear, will out-perform the wire-mesh version for distance and in load-bearing.

Joe Lettieri, Goodyear’s lead researcher on the spring tire project, said:

“This tire is extremely durable and very energy efficient. The spring design contours to any surface providing maximum traction. All of the energy used to deform the tire is returned when the springs rebound, so it will not generate heat like a pneumatic tire.”

No rubber on the moon

Goodyear and NASA chose to eschew rubber the its lunar tires because of the material’s susceptibility to extremes of heat and cold. Also, the unfiltered solar radiation on the lunar surface would degrade rubber.

Won R&D award in 2010

The tire-maker was awarded the R&D 100 award for its spring tires in 2010. This is the first time, however, the technology will be shown to the public with a practical application.

The Geneva Motor Show opened its doors to the public Thursday, March 8. Goodyear will display its new technology there until March 18.


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