is an non-pneumatic Tire/WhEEL combo which offers an idiot-proof, no-maintenance, easily-retreadable tire for consumers and the holy grail for the military - a tire that can't be “shot out.” You won't see the Tweel on your sandmobile any time soon because it has noise, vibration, heat and wear problems at highway speeds, but its unique construction enables it to be specifically engineered with ideal characteristics for highly specialized low speed applications. The ultimate badge of credibility was bestowed on the design when it rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on NASA’s Small Pressurized Lunar Rover prototype during the Obama presidential inauguration.
UPDATED November 20, 2008 One of the more fascinating developments in the history of the automotive tire
is the modern concept of the airless tire. Dunlop produced the first pneumatic tire for bicycles in 1888 and Michelin did likewise for cars in 1895, and for the last century, pneumatic tires have ruled. Michelin announced its airless Tweel technology three years ago
(Gizmag’s biggest story ever with more than a million page views) and won the Intermat Gold Medal for Innovation in 2006
, though we have yet to see a commercially available automotive product from the French giant. Now a new airless tire using a flexible, honeycomb-like internal structure could again prove to be a disruptive technology in one of the world’s largest industries. With development funded by the U.S. DoD, the initial aim of the project was to replace the Achilles heel of the military vehicle, but now the technology looks like going commercial for the rest of us.
Updated April 29, 2005 Michelin has showcased a potentially disruptive technology with significant ramifications for the future for mobility: an airless, integrated tyre and wheel combination dubbed the TWEEL (i.e. Tyre/WhEEL) . The Tweel promises performance levels beyond those possible with conventional pneumatic technology. The first commercial applications of the Tweel will be in lower-speed, lower-weight vehicles such as the iBOT mobility device
and Segway's Concept Centaur
. Designed by Segway-inventor Dean Kamen, the iBOT mobility device has the ability to climb stairs and navigate uneven terrain, offering mobility freedom impossible with traditional wheelchairs.
Additionally, Segway's Concept Centaur, a prototype that applies self-balancing technology to a four-wheel device, has also been equipped with Tweel to increase its performance potential.