When a vehicle hits a divot in the road, it can puncture a tire and even bend the car’s rim. If the tire nicks or tears or the sidewall bulges, it’s a matter of time before the tire deflates. Wear and tear issues and poor maintenance can add to a tire’s vulnerability, including increasing susceptibility to flats. Wouldn’t it be great if tires were made of newer materials that couldn’t deflate? You have reason to rejoice because NASA is working on it.
Per an article shared by Popular Mechanics, “NASA’s latest innovation is based on an idea that has been around for years, the airless tire, but uses shape-memory alloys as radial stiffening elements to maximize the advantages and capabilities.” The article discusses the capability of the Superelastic Tire, “Although these prototypes were created for rovers to be used on missions to Mars, NASA says the technology could trickle into real-world applications here on our own planet. Of course, traction, speed capability, and cost would be major issues, but commercial vehicles that only travel at low speeds and operate off-pavement could benefit. And just imagine how great these would be driving over potholes.”
The Superelastic Tire is considered the latest evolution of the Spring Tire that was invented by NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Goodyear. Superelastic Tires offer superior traction and eliminate puncture failures common in conventional pneumatic tires. It is believed that future use of these tires in standard vehicles will increase automobile safety.
NASA Technology Transfer Program’s website describes additional benefits of the tire, describing it as safe, strong, robust, simple, versatile and lightweight. The tire design eliminates the need for an inner frame and simplifies and lightens the tire/wheel assembly. The Superelastic Tire can be configured for high traction to perform on various terrains. They also address tire stiffness which can be designed to limit energy transferred to the vehicle. This promising technology may soon render flat tires a thing of the past.
To learn more, visit:
NASA Technology Transfer Program: https://technology.nasa.gov/patent/LEW-TOPS-99