Conventional tires work on a basic principle. They run on air. The advancement of the construction technology of tires has improved the nature of materials used. But, the down-sides still remain. Pneumatic tires still experience blowouts, flats, uneven wear, and unwanted punctures.
On top of that, there’s the need for drivers to constantly check the tire pressure, just to ensure they drive safe and do not experience any similar problems on the road. To solve this, Michelin is partnering with General Motors to create an airless tire that eliminates all those problems.
The concept is known as the Michelin UPTIS (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System) and is expected to come into realization by 2024. The UPTIS is an airless tire that primarily runs on airless technology. No air means no blowouts, no punctures, and no flats. Tire monitoring systems that keep an eye on tire pressure will also not be needed since there will be nothing to keep an eye on.
The prototype is interesting in its form and design. It still uses a combination of fiberglass-embedded resin and synthetic rubber that allows it to work at high speeds. It is not visually appealing like conventional tires, but eliminates a lot of the problems experienced in them. In addition, it allows Michelin to reduce raw materials used and waste generated in the manufacture of tires. This means that it’s also environmentally-friendly.
Another advantage of the UPTIS is its ability to improve lateral stability. There is nothing to warp or any chance that something will bulge during a turn. The contact patch does not expand whatsoever. This provides a comfortable and steady ride on all types of terrains and increases control at high speeds and temperatures.
Conceptually, the UPTIS should last as long as the vehicle does. This means car owners will get to enjoy reduced maintenance costs on their vehicles and increased safety. In case of wear, all drivers have to do is add a fresh coat of rubber, just like what happens on large tires that are used on heavy equipment and tractor-trailers.
The technology applied in the UPTIS is not entirely perfect. But, research into the materials used could provide solutions to problems such as rigidity and heat storage. The more prototypes that Michelin and GM make could make the final product better, especially since there are a lot of tests being carried out already.
Other industry players such as Bridgestone and Hankook are also looking into this technology. The military and sports such as Formula 1 are also keeping an eye on it. Michelin and General Motors seem to be making the most effort in delivering the product to the market alongside other Michelin tires.