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Bridgestone's airless tires are designed to never go flat

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December 2, 2011

Bridgestone's airless tires are made from entirely recyclable material

Bridgestone's airless tires are made from entirely recyclable material

This week at the Tokyo Auto Show in Japan, Bridgestone showed off its latest development - puncture-less air-free tires. The tires are still in the concept phase, but have been successfully tested on single-person vehicles in Japan traditionally used for elderly people.

The 9-inch wheels have thermoplastic-resin spokes that radiate from the rim to the tread, curving to the left and right for maximum structural support. The tires' solid design doesn't require air, and consequently can't be punctured - so, no more flat tires.

Also interesting is the material the tires are made of, which is entirely recyclable.

Still in the testing phase, Bridgestone plans to heavily evaluate the tires' performance on traditional cars before making them available to the general public.

While certainly interesting, Bridgestone's tires aren't the first we've heard of to go air-free. Airless tire technology has been under investigation for years, with Michelin's airless Tweel tires even winning the Intermat Gold Medal for Innovation in 2006.

Source: Tech-on

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29 Comments

I could see snow getting logged in them affecting balance.

Tylor English
2nd December, 2011 @ 02:33 pm PST

Michelin's Tweel tyres have slightly worse fuel economy and become noisy above 80 or 90 kph. I wonder how these tyres do in comparison?

Puncture-less tyres can be useful in harsh environments like junk yards etc. so they might have industrial applications even if they are not suitable for road use.

Wombat56
2nd December, 2011 @ 03:42 pm PST

... and the performance as filling the voids with snow, mud, or dirt buils up would limit the flexible of the inner structure. It needs a removable light weight flexible outer skin to prevent this build up. It would be cool to custom paint that wheel skin.

Joseph J Shimandle
2nd December, 2011 @ 04:12 pm PST

I would imagine the finished product does not have open sidewalls.

There would still be issues to overcome with this design on automobiles. With conventional tyres you adjust tyre pressure according to load. There is a trade-off between grip,wear and rolling resistance. Will be interesting to see how they account for this requirement.

Australian
2nd December, 2011 @ 04:14 pm PST

I think it is an excellent tire for those cars too small for a spare; or for ones that have spare as an option instead of part of the cars standard equipment.

I would not mind testing it on my little car. :)

BigWarpGuy
2nd December, 2011 @ 05:47 pm PST

You would think they would not have an open design, but from the tread pattern with slots showing the green 'rim' structure, the camphered edges of the rubber treads, and the concave flared shape of the ribs were they meet the rim structure, that these rims are not designed to have an outer shell.

Joseph J Shimandle
2nd December, 2011 @ 09:19 pm PST

I don't know anybody who adjusts their tire pressures. Every car driver I know just goes by the pressure rating on the side of the tire. Some even guess. Even though most would really be better off going a few PSI lower for better ride and traction

As for the look, I'm sure the visible structure is just for show in these development prototypes, just so people can see what they're made of and how they work. I can imagine the finished product (assuming it ever makes it to market) having a flexible cover that makes the wheel look like a very large alloy wheel with a super-low profile pneumatic tire, just the way many "bling"-obsessed inner city drivers like it.

Gadgeteer
3rd December, 2011 @ 07:24 am PST

Will be popular.

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
3rd December, 2011 @ 09:41 am PST

I don't get the fuss over no flat tiers. I've been driving for 25 years and have had only two flats in that entire time, and when I did they only cost about $20 to fix. Most people have only a handful of flats over their driving lifetime, unless they are careless idiots who abuse their cars and tires, so the extra expense seems a waste.

fofu
3rd December, 2011 @ 10:05 am PST

Wondering what the weight differential is. We all would like these work of course - the idea of riding on squishy balloons waiting to pop was never too great anyway.

Todd Dunning
3rd December, 2011 @ 12:06 pm PST

re; fofu

The money is the least of the costs of a flat tire.

Slowburn
3rd December, 2011 @ 12:24 pm PST

fofu flat repairs are usually free at most tire stores, what is not free if you are on the road fofu changing that tire and some moron did not see you, that thump sound you did not hear was you getting hit, thump, then bump bump you either getting run over by two tires or bouncing, or a bad launch, thump, thump thump thump thump, yep a semi truck, as a highlight! you would make the 6 O clock news! Slowburn and I will remember you

Bill Bennett
3rd December, 2011 @ 07:43 pm PST

Even if they are not great for regular usage they would still make great maintenance free spare tires.

Slowburn
3rd December, 2011 @ 10:38 pm PST

Hmmm the dirt and snow would be flung out and shaken loose - the wheel "body" is essentially plastic and flexible.

Mr Stiffy
4th December, 2011 @ 05:32 pm PST

Hey Gadgeteer your obviously a city lad...come live in the boonies for a while...when we play in the dirt you air down to about 20psi, normal highway use 40psi. Picked up a load of crusher dust this morning and upped the back tyres to 55psi...these wouldn't be much use to me in my fourby but for the old girl in her pretend four wheel drive they would be a blessing...no more phone calls to go and change tyres for her...fofu mate you have me scratching my head...how to you equate getting a nail or roofing screw through your tyre as that person being a careless idiot who abuses their car and tyres...most of us drive more than a 100 metres to the shop and back...Maybe you should try it as well, might expand your horizons a bit (or your eyes).

finnifam
4th December, 2011 @ 07:26 pm PST

Makes me think of Moon tyres...

The prototypes were made off pianostrings I believe

MadEdd57
5th December, 2011 @ 02:41 am PST

If they added sidewalls then you would have no clogging issue and the tire would be sturdier.

Tiltrotortech
5th December, 2011 @ 04:06 am PST

Can they do wallets next? Mine keeps going flat!

donwine
5th December, 2011 @ 08:11 am PST

Burning the tyres will probably be more preferable, as it'll generate more electricity than the electricity you save with recycling.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
5th December, 2011 @ 09:33 am PST

I have three vehicles and in total put about 20K miles a year on them. I have not had a flat tire for the past 15 years or roughly 300K miles. This tire solves a problem that does not really exist.

I would be much more concerned about the rolling resistance as this tire avoids problems with under inflation, impact resistance, and its load and speed rating. With a conventional tire I can add more air to compensate for an increased payload whether it is stuff or having a full load of passengers. I can also reduce the amount of air inside the tires to improve traction. With an airless tire this is not possible.

Calson
5th December, 2011 @ 10:45 am PST

I'ld be more concerned with lateral stability. These tires don't seem to be able to take turns at anything other than crawling speed. Conventional tires rely of sidewall flexibility to corner when the vehicle takes a turn. These tires don't seem to have that ability.

Ed
5th December, 2011 @ 04:50 pm PST

I have a wheelbarrow that I need to use about once per year. The tire is always flat when I need it. This would be perfect for that usage.

derik
5th December, 2011 @ 05:05 pm PST

re; Ed

The flexible lattice structure that allows the tire to mimic the ride of a pneumatic tire, also flexes to keep the tread on the road while cornering. Bridgestone would be keeping it under very tight wraps if it was not minimally functional.

Slowburn
5th December, 2011 @ 10:54 pm PST

these are most welcome tyre design. i much appreciate if it available soon in common market. guys, you all never have expirience living in a place where there is no regulation obeying community like i have. i've frequently had flat tyre when passing thru' construction site. this tyre will give a relieve.

razif
6th December, 2011 @ 05:42 pm PST

These would so rock! Away with most of the road hazard tire damage. Away with leaky valve stems (I presently have one). Lateral (i.e., cornering) stability could be tuned by the composition of the fins, and would certainly exceed that of air times. And hey, bottom line, never wake up, late for work, to a flat tire. And less rubber = less petroleum consumption. I can't think of an industry that would be in opposition - the 'air industry'? the 'tire patch industry'? - so hopefully they will come, and soon. I'm out.

Bruce Lisker
6th December, 2011 @ 07:16 pm PST

I wonder if anyone's though of a rubber foam tire. They have foam metal that is lighter than air, so why not use rubber?

DnArturo2
7th December, 2011 @ 11:47 am PST

The future will be MORE TRACTION, for example, NON-CIRCULAR tires. Is safety not a priority? I would like to see a tire that can stop FAST without skidding. Why not create a track-like tire that not only stops fast, but at the same time creates a self-righting effect of the vehicle due to an elongated tread (think of ski's). Just putting the idea out there...

Facebook User
17th December, 2011 @ 04:44 pm PST

It's a promising idea, , now to make it affordable, keeps its circular shape when heavier weight is applied to it, sturdy so it doesn't fall apart and last just as long as a regular tire; and have it roll very easily so it doesn't rob fuel economy.

Gargamoth
18th December, 2011 @ 04:24 pm PST

Wait till us Aussies get hold of them...

Paul Harris
30th December, 2011 @ 01:09 pm PST
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