We have seen these things in the movies: cars that move on water, ships that fly, and boats that run on sand. These sights may be dismissed as science fiction or figments of imagination, and rightfully so, but unusual phenomena of that nature may not be so far away from actualisation anymore.
Flying cars could one day disrupt Goodyear's tyre business. The company has designed an airless tyre, called the Goodyear Aero, which would double as a propeller. The Aero tyres, whose designs were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, would have bladed spokes that act as a fan allowing the wheels to flip upward and help propel a car into the air.
Goodyear's flying tyre is currently just a conceptual design. Chris Helsel, Goodyear's chief technology officer, said the design is meant to spark discussion about transportation options for the future.
"With mobility companies looking to the sky for the answer to the challenges of urban transport and congestion, our work on advanced tyre 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," Helsel said.
Aviation experts doubt that the propeller-tyre hybrid could ever make it off the ground. It would be tough for the wheels to satisfy the car's needs for breaking on the ground and withstand the high rotational speeds needed to lift the car into the air, according to Daniel Codd, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of San Diego.
But some parts of the Aero tyre design are similar to technology that is already in cars today. For example, Aero tyres would have a combination of optical sensing and artificial intelligence to monitor the condition of the tyres and communicate with other cars and infrastructure. Some cars today have the ability to communicate to one another to help avoid accidents, and some cars have air-pressure sensors in tyres to inform drivers of low pressure or blowouts.
It would be interesting to see how these flying tyres work on cars, should the prototypes ever get manufactured. Of course we are still a long way off, but it is definitely ok to nurse dreams of this nature.
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