When Michelin first revealed that its airless tire concept will go into production, some were skeptical about its design. Can this new type of tire actually allow a car to drive around like a regular pneumatic tire?
After conducting tests with various manufacturers like John Deere, General Motors, and Mini, Michelin said that the Uptis airless tire is on track for its market introduction in 2024. With that, we can expect future vehicles to roll on Michelin’s new airless tire.
But don’t expect Michelin to be the only one with this type of technology. Hankook Tires has also revealed its own airless tire concept at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Called the i-Flex, Hankook describes it as a futuristic, non-pneumatic concept tire that features a biomimetic design.
Developed in collaboration with Hyundai, it measures 10-inches in size, with a diameter of 400mm (16-inches) and a width of 105mm (4-inches). Since it doesn’t need air, punctures will not be a problem for Hankook’s i-Flex.
But in order for the tire to absorb shocks and bear load, the i-Flex makes use of a multi-layer interlocking spoke design inspired by the cellular structure of living organisms. This intricate design structures the cell for better shock absorption while also allowing for more stable load support.
In addition, it has a C-shaped concave profile which allows the i-Flex to have as much contact patch as possible for safer driving. A pattern optimized for multi-directional vehicular motion was also adopted by employing the cell structure shape to the tread design.
While the i-Flex looks ready for production, Hankook says that it will continue its research and development to further improve their take on the airless tire concept.
There’s no exact date yet as to when Hankook plans to introduce it into the market. We won’t be surprised if it will be available after Michelin launches the Uptis to the market sometime in 2024, though.