Thursday 23 April 2009

Michelin's Tweel

Michelin. the company which first made pneumatic tyres for automobiles in 1896, is working on the next generation of tyres/wheels. They are making a combined device called a "Tweel". Tweels are non-pneumatic, and puncture proof. They have no sidewalls, just an integral, bonded-in rubber spoke-like structure, which can deform on impact.

They're not quite ready for sustained highway speeds yet, but are apparently fully functional as earthmover and forklift tyres. More significant kudos for the company came when Nasa announced tweels would be used on the new lunar rover.
They're not the only company doing this. Resilient Technologies are working on a similar concept for military use.

Polymer wheel/tire by Resilient Technologies on a US military Humvee

Also Crocodile Tyres in Australia make airless tyres for mining, demolition, and building equipment.

Crocodile Tyres

How new is the idea? Here's a picture from the long-gone past.
(between 1910 and 1920)

Now this is more my style.....
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