By: Hemanth Ramesh November, 22, 2019
A tire bust when driving on a highway could be extremely dangerous, causing the vehicle to go out of control and potentially lead to an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire blowouts are estimated to cause around 738 deaths and 78,000 automobile crashes each year.
A safer technology for tires might help lower insurance costs as well as save lives. Some of the companies currently working on the technology include Michelin, Bridgestone, Hankook, Sumitomo, Amerityre, Pirelli, and Cooper. Although the features of the tires produced by the companies mentioned above could be more or less the same, there is no doubt about the impact this revolutionary technology could have on the car industry.
Michelin is working with General motors on an airless tire called the MICHELIN Uptis (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System). These tires work on a rib suspension system, although it still has a traditional treading like a standard tire. These tires have a see-through rib pattern, which not only suspends the wheel from hitting the ground but also act as mini shock absorbers. Moreover, these tires are not filled with air, and therefore are not susceptible to punctures.
It was earlier thought that this issue would be resolved with the arrival of tubeless tires. Unfortunately, the biggest issue with tubeless tires is that they leak small amounts of air when they get a puncture. Airless tires have never been available for cars before, although they have been available for military and construction vehicles. The MICHELIN Uptis prototype wheel is currently being tested in a controlled environment, and is expected to be available to the public by 2024.
Around 200 million tires are scrapped annually due to blowouts or irregular wear due to drivers driving on the wrong air pressures. By scrapping tires, companies claim that they can reduce pollution and lessen the number of raw materials required to manufacture new tires.
The MICHELIN Uptis is currently being tested on vehicles such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV. According to the company, the wheel will be adaptable on all sorts of vehicles- whether autonomous, all-electric, or shared service, supposedly with zero maintenance required. If the technology is proved to be successful, it would be a massive leap in terms of safety and waste reduction because 20% of tires are scrapped each year due to punctures or irregular wear.
Hemanth Ramesh works as a writer for Gavop. He has previously written content for film promotions, start-ups, advertising agencies and event management firms. Hemanth Ramesh completed his MA in Journalism and Mass Communication from The English and Foreign Languages University. His other passion includes script writing.