Goodyear thinks this WEIRD ball-tyre concept will make autonomous cars safer
At this week’s Geneva Motor Show, Goodyear unveiled a new concept of tyre – and it looks pretty weird, to be honest. Called the Goodyear Eagle-360, the new tyre features an odd spherical design, and also uses a weird organic-looking tread. To find out the secrets of the tyre, and why it looked a bit like a rubber Scotch egg, we spoke to Goodyear’s Etienne Besnoin.
Why the ball shape?
The Eagle-360’s most obvious feature is its weird spherical shape, but it’s not just for show. Goodyear thinks that in the future cars will use magnetism instead of axles, increasing both efficiency and manoeuvrability. “The vehicle body is suspended by magnetic levitation over the tyres,” explains Besnoin. “This improves comfort obviously, but this also improves safety. The tyre can move in all directions; it’s not constrained by any axles to any direction, so it’s able to adapt its direction and optimise the way in performs on the road surface.”
At the same time, Goodyear also says the Eagle-360 tyres would include a range of embedded sensors – just like its more traditional IntelliGrip tyres. The result? Driverless cars will be able to quickly receive more information about the road, helping them to react sooner and more intelligently.
Why the weird tread?
“Goodyear really got its inspiration from brain coral,” says Besnoin. “The coral evolved into this shape to optimise how much nutrients the brain coral can take in. Here, the idea is the unique shape of the grooves optimises how much water is expelled from the footprint [of the tyre.] Look in nature for inspiration. This is one great example of innovation that is derived from nature.”
As you’d expect, Goodyear has no plans to release the Eagle-360 just yet, but it’s an interesting glimpse into the future of the tyre. It’s important to remember that as cars become more advanced – the tyre, their only contact with the road – will need to do the same.