In a previous issue of The Accelerator, we mentioned that several tire manufacturers were testing airless tires. Now, French tire maker Michelin is about to release its first airless tires.
Instead of using traditional “sidewall” construction, airless tires feature an open sidewall, and s series of radial supports, spanning the depth of the tire. Rather than using air to inflate a tube, the radial supports maintain the tire’s general shape, flexing and deforming as needed to ensure adequate traction and as smooth a ride as possible. Like traditional tires, airless tires will also feature blocks of tread, to aid traction and evacuate water from between the tire and the road surface.
The best news is that these tires will not go flat- there’s no air to be let out of the tire! Another benefit is that airless tires weigh less, and thus require less energy to get and keep them rolling. But Michelin’s airless tires won’t yet be seen on road-going passenger vehicles, at least not yet. Instead, they will initially be mounted on skid loaders, select ATVs, and some John Deere lawnmowers.