Automobiles have seen many upgrades over the decades. The first one, known as the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, was invented back in 1886 by Karl Benz in Germany. Automobiles received a much-needed upgrade, one that could be accessible to the masses, during the early 20th century thanks to Henry Ford. Since Ford’s time, automobiles have improved, incorporating safety measures, improving its internal combustion engine design, and even evolving to run off of cleaner sources of energy.
These days, the next big thing in the automotive industry is the creation of the autonomous automobiles, whether they be cars, trucks, SUVs, or any other design. For those who are unfamiliar with this type of vehicle, an autonomous automobile is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without a human operator. They are also known as driverless cars, self-driving cars, or robotic cars.
Autonomous automobiles are getting real close to being showcased to the showroom, but there are certain details of our current automobiles that need to be redesigned and improved before that could happen, including the tires. Although many concepts were brainstormed, Goodyear has provided the most interesting concept: spherical tires.
Goodyear presented their autonomous automobile concepts during the 86th Geneva International Motor Show, as reported by Gizmag. The one concept getting plenty of attention is known as the Eagle-360, a spherical tire that has an appearance similar to a dodgeball. It is linked to automobiles by magnetic levitation instead of axles, giving the automobile itself a wide range of free movement. Besides going forward, backward, and making turns, the Eagle-360 will allow automobiles to also go diagonally and sideways. Such an improvement would maximize efficient use of road space, especially when it comes to parking.
Other features built into the concept of the Eagle-360 include embedded sensors for the tire to assess the environment by communicating with other automobiles and traffic control systems. It also keeps up with the tire’s status, providing information on its treads’ wear and tear, air pressure, and the like. As for the thread itself, its pattern is similar to brain coral, which is hypothesized to make the tires act like a sponge. It stays stiff during dry conditions and softens in wet conditions, which makes handling easier.
Although the Eagle-360 is one of the coolest-looking concepts for autonomous automobiles, it is considered unrealistic too. As a result, Goodyear’s second concept, the Intelligrip, is favored among automobile manufacturers for being more conventional. The tire has two important features that work with autonomous automobiles. The first is its communications, which are designed to communicate with autonomous automobile’s control system. It will assess road surface, weather conditions, wear and tear, tire pressure, and tire temperature. The second is that it works alongside anti-collision systems by detecting and adapting to road conditions, especially those considered hazardous.
The Eagle-360 and Intelligrip tires may be concepts, but Goodyear is already trying to incorporate some of its technology into today’s automotive technology. They hope it will enhance features like electronic stability control systems, brake control systems, and suspension control systems.
As for the price of these concepts, Goodyear remained silent at the time, as reported by Inhabitat. However, it is believed both the Eagle-360 and Intelligrip will be expensive endeavors. This is certainly true for the former, given the concept is all new technology.
[Image via Goodyear]