After 117 years of making tires, Goodyear wanted to create a product that is nothing like we've ever seen before (except in sci-fi), a tire for the long-term future. So they created a sphere.
At this year's Geneva International Motor Show, Goodyear unveiled its latest concept tire, Eagle-360. The spherical, 3-D printed tire highlights Goodyear's vision for the future when autonomous driving is expected to be more mainstream.
The unique shape of the tire promises ultimate manoeuvrability, safety and connectivity for self-driving vehicles. Using active technology, the multi-orientation tires move in all directions, depending on what is required to reduce sliding from potential hazards (black ice or sudden obstacles).
The spherical Goodyear Eagle-360 provides a very smooth ride by creating a fluid, lateral movement, which makes it possible for the vehicle to overtake an obstacle without even changing its driving direction.
As the name already suggests, 360 degree turns are possible with this tire. Introducing a new kind of motion for the vehicles of the future also hints at numerous possibilites of alternative parking options, which is something to truly hope for, considering the constantly rising numbers of vehicles on the road every year. Far less space will be needed for cars fitted with spherical tires to pull into parking spots, so this could significantly increase the capacity of public parking areas without increasing their size - as demonstrated in the video below.
The concept tires connect with the body of the car by means of magnetic levitation. Indeed, the first thing that comes to mind is the 2002 Minority Report film with Tom Cruise doing (again) some seriously sick stunts with 'maglevs', futuristic cars for a vast urban magnetic levitation (MAG-LEV) from the year 2054. In real life, in 2016, the prospects are looking good - the concept Goodyear tire is suspended from the car by magnetic fields, similar to magnetic levitation trains, which increases passenger comfort and reduces noise.
To increase safety, Goodyear focused also on connectivity to optimize driving conditions in autonomous vehicles. There are sensors inside the Eagle-360 concept tire that register the road conditions, such as weather and road surface conditions, and communicate this information to the car. On top of that, leveraging Goodyear's tread wear and pressure monitoring technology helps to extend mileage. Since the tread is produced by a 3-D printer, it will now be possible to create customized tires, based on the region you live in and its road conditions.
Definitely something to embrace and look forward to!