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Airless Tires Get Their Public Test Drive

The electrified Mini Cooper that rode around Munich’s auto show this past September on airless tires may have huge ramifications – the French company Michelin is hopeful that these tires will be on your car within the next few years. Michelin has been working on airless tires for over a decade. Their unique shape – they resemble toy car wheels — grabbed some attention at the autoshow but passengers appeared satisfied with the new technology overall.

According to Michelin, millions of tires end up in landfills due to puncture damage. There, they are joined by legions of other tires that are simply too old and worn out to be useful. Tires that have been discarded can catch fire and release fumes, heavy metals, and oil into the environment. In 2019, the United States alone produced approximately 260 million trash tires.

According to the firm, around 18% of tires trashed each year are due to damage; this is where they believe UPTIS may help.Tires can also be created from recovered plastic waste, furthering the ecological objective. They currently contain some recycled debris, but Michelin intends to make them totally of recycled material in the future, according to Interesting Engineering.

Michelin claims that the airless tires will result in safer, worry-free driving because the road conditions will be less detrimental to the tires. This has the unintended consequence of lowering the expenses of vehicle fleets such as buses and rental automobiles. This past July, Goodyear revealed that the Jacksonville Transportation Authority will be testing its own version of an airless tire on the JTA’s fleet of driverless vehicles.

Drivers at the car show said they couldn’t tell the difference between airless tires and traditional tires. But, regardless of how they feel, the airless tires are created in a very different way. UPTIS is made out of an aluminum wheel with a customized “tire” wrapped around it. Made from a plastic matrix that has been laced with and reinforced with glass fibers. This outer tire is intended to be flexible while still being sturdy enough to sustain the vehicle.

According to New Atlas, the airless tires may also be changed to improve their performance. Stiffness may be adjusted to affect how the car feels while braking, cornering, or accelerating, and holes punched in the tires can assist lessen the risk of severely slipping in the rain.

UPTIS has been under research for around 21 years, according to Michelin senior principal product engineer Steve Cron; the breakthrough came when the materials used to make the tires were ultimately created. The airless tires are based on what the tire business has learnt from its existing airless Tweel system, which is designed for off-road vehicles.

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