Goodyear Unveils New Bio-Inspired Spherical Tire Design

Admit it – You suck at parallel parking. Ain’t no shame. Most of us do. But if the treadheads at Goodyear have their say, parallel parking and a few other annoyingly tight automotive maneuvers might be a thing of the past. The Akron, Ohio-based company founded way back in 1998 recently unveiled its new Eagle-360 spherical tire concept at the Geneva International Motor Show. Inspired by nature and perhaps a little magic, these potentially game-changing tires would allow vehicles to move in any direction from any position.

Any movie buff knows that spherical tires aren’t a totally new idea. Automotive designers have been trying at least since the theatrical release of Will Smith’s I, Robot in 2004 to perfect the idea. But the one engineering challenge that kept the idea squarely in the realm of CGI special effects was how best to attach the wheels to a vehicle. Goodyear’s solution? Don’t attach them at all.

Instead, the Eagle-360 wheels are kept in place not with steel, but with a super-strong set of magnets. Goodyear officials are mum on just how this magnetic levitation works (understandably, considering this is potentially revolutionary trade secret stuff). But a spokesperson did liken the technology to that used by magnetic levitation trains, which use electrically charged magnets to lift train cars inches above the tracks. Electricity supplied via coils in the tracks creates magnetic fields that move the train at speeds of more than 300 miles per hour.

Another feature is the adjustable tire tread design that takes a cue from brain coral and natural sponges. Via sensors that communicate information about road conditions, treads stiffen in dry conditions and soften when wet.

The shape, magnetic levitation and auto-adjustable tread means that the Eagle-360 tires lend unprecedented maneuverability and powerful control in virtually any weather and could help keep drivers and passengers safe by improving ability to dodge obstacles in the roadways.

Of course, it’s anyone’s guess as to just when these futuristic tires might become everyday reality. But we here at E3 Spark Plugs are impressed. What do you think? Would you outfit your ride with a set of Eagle-360s? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.


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