Goodyear just unveiled two incredible new tires developed specifically for autonomous cars this week at the 86th Geneva International Motor show. One is a spherical tire that allows cars to drive in any direction, and the other is a smart tire that reads and automatically responds to changing conditions. With the launch of these two concepts, Goodyear illustrates the wilder side of automotive technology, and it’s safe to say the industry is pleased.
A spherical tire looks an awful lot like one of those rubber balls we all dodged in elementary school gym class – except a lot bigger. The Eagle-360, as the design is known, reinvents the concept of a car tire entirely. Rather than being connected to a fixed axle, Goodyear’s spherical tire is controlled via magnetic levitation. This allows for the sort of sideways driving that could make parallel parking a dream come true, and may also lead to the development of smaller autonomous cars, perfect for crowded urban centers. The Eagle-360 would be outfitted with a special non-linear tread pattern, which looks like brain coral and is responsive to conditions no matter which direction the car is rolling.
The second conceptual design is called Intelligrip. This tire, also designed for autonomous cars, looks more like a traditional tire but is equipped with sensors that monitor the road’s surface conditions and communicate directly with the computer that controls the car’s autonomous operations (i.e. the ‘legal driver’ of the vehicle, according to a federal transportation agency). This ‘smart tire’ would influence the car’s driving based on conditions, and it would adjust stopping distance and stability to make an autonomous car function even more like a human-driven vehicle.
With only concepts released so far, there’s no word on how much tires like this would cost, but they’re bound to be spendy. Perhaps Goodyear will also find a way to make them indestructible.
Images via Goodyear