At the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show, Goodyear unveiled the Eagle 360 Urban, its most recent concept tire intended for the next generation of autonomous vehicles.
At first glance, it looks more like a football than anything else. Yet, it is very much a tire. In fact, it is a new generation of futuristic rubber developed by Goodyear. Called "Eagle 360 Urban", it comes straight from a 3D printer and is made of an ultra-elastic polymer whose elasticity and healing properties are close to those of human flesh.
"The bionic skin of the Goodyear Eagle 360 Urban contains a network of sensors enabling it to monitor its own status and to collect information on its environment, including road conditions", said Goodyear. Created using super-elastic polymers, it transforms according to the surface with which it is in contact (asphalt, rain, ice, etc.) and rainy conditions will cause dimples to appear in the tire, collecting the highest amount of water possible before evacuating it. The bionic skin, combined with the artificial intelligence, will detect all types of failures in the tire and send the data to a management centre, allowing real-time information to be shared with all users and thus enable traffic to be managed on an overall and individual basis.
In addition, spherical tires should offer several more advantages than conventional tires:
It should be able to easily turn in all directions, providing a more fluid ride, while limiting, thanks to its greater contact surface than a conventional tire, the risks of skidding caused by bad weather or unexpected obstacles. It should also provide vehicles with a 360° steering range, enabling users to easily park in small spaces. And finally, the Eagle-360 should have a longer life than conventional tires, as wear would be distributed across a larger surface, i.e. across the whole sphere rather than just on the treads.