Something to look forward to: When I was a kid I fully believed we would have flying cars by the 21st century. Now, two decades in, we still have no Jetsons-like transport. That doesn't mean that nobody is working on it though.
This week at the Geneva Auto Show, Goodyear unveiled its “Aero" concept tire. The wheel is designed to rotate vertically when the car is on the ground and horizontally while flying. The Aero is made from a flexible material and does not need inflating. The bulk of the tire is made up of fins between the hub and the tread. These fins act as propellers as the car transitions, two wheels at a time, between travel modes.
“With mobility companies looking to the sky for the answer to the challenges of urban transport and congestion, our work on advanced tire architectures and materials led us to imagine a wheel that could serve both as a traditional tire on the road and as a propulsion system in the sky,” said Goodyear CTO Chris Helsel.
The wheel uses a magnetic propulsion system at the hub to help it achieve rotational speeds fast enough to lift the vehicle and passengers. Goodyear also says fiber optic sensors and a built-in AI monitor road conditions and tire wear. The AI could also provide vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication to better assess traveling conditions and recommend a course of action — allowing a vehicle to adapt to a flying or driving mode.
Helsel emphasized that the tire is only a concept. While Goodyear is currently working on some of the technology incorporated into the Aero, like its non-pneumatic structure, AI, and sensors, the concept is mostly useful for fueling innovations.
“Goodyear's concepts are meant to trigger a debate on the tires and transport technologies for a new mobility ecosystem,” he said.
As such, don't expect to see Aero tires released anytime soon if at all.