The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced it has developed and is testing a custom-engineered non-pneumatic (airless) tire (NPT) to support Starship delivery robots.

Starship Technologies, a Goodyear Ventures portfolio company, builds and operates a network of over 1,000 last-mile autonomous robots that carry and deliver packages, groceries, and food directly to customers.

To address Starship’s request related to tire health and maintenance, Goodyear developed a specially engineered airless tire designed to extend tire life and reduce maintenance activities for Starship’s delivery fleet.

Goodyear and Starship have entered an in-field testing phase at Bowling Green State University to evaluate vehicle and tire dependencies. Early on-vehicle tire testing data has shown positive results with respect to tread-wear, braking, and vibration dampening.

“We are excited to extend our unique airless tire architectures into new forms of mobility,” said Michael Rachita, Goodyear’s senior program manager, non-pneumatic tires. “The micro delivery space presents a different set of needs as it relates to the tire, and our NPT technology is ideal to meet those needs to help enable a maintenance-free and long-lasting experience.”

“Our delivery robots make thousands of deliveries every day in all types of weather conditions and terrain,” said Siim Viilup, mechanical engineering manager, Starship Technologies. “To make sure we can keep up with the growing demand for our services, we need tires that are reliable and keep our robots on the move around the clock and around the globe. It’s great to see these new tires offering reliability as well as cost savings as we scale our business.”

With Goodyear busy testing airless for delivery robots, this could pave the way for the development of airless tires for passenger cars in the not-so-distant future. Should that happen, Michelin's airless tires could have some stiff competition.