The high performance tyre of the future will be very different to the tyres we drive on today, if the results of a recent design competition are a guide.
A Hankook Tire competition in the US has challenged some of the country’s brightest industrial design students to imagine the role of tyres in automotive design from new angles.
The winning entry by University of Cincinnati student Ben Zavala took the brief somewhat literally, with his Tiltread car tyre rolling into corners at an angle like a motorcycle tyre.
Zavala’s breakthrough idea was to split the tyre into three parallel ring sections, each mounted on a corresponding split section of wheel.
As the wheel turns and leans, the three tyre sections are individually raised or lowered, allowing them all to maintain traction with the road surface.
Tiltread’s wheels are hubless and contain an electric drive motor which varies power to each tyre section, allowing the sections to spin at different rates during cornering.
University of Cincinnati associate professor Ralph Zammit said the competition demonstrated just how great an impact improvement in tyre design could have upon the overall efficiency, ecology and economy of road transportation.
“Hankook proposed a very challenging assignment that provided the students with real-world insights as to how tyres are currently designed, manufactured and the performance issues they must address,” said associate professor Zammit.
“Students were especially encouraged to consider sustainability needs such as reducing and reusing raw materials.”
Second place in the competition was taken by Mark Hearn who imagined an off-road tyre called Motiv, which features numerous height-variable, non-pneumatic tread blocks that can adapt to extremely rough terrain without risk of blow-out.
Third-placed Miranda Steinhauser’s proposal for an eco-friendly tyre also impressed the competition judges.
The Tessela tyre’s easily removable tread components allow consumers to replace worn-out tread when required, rather than the whole tyre carcass, reducing tyre waste and landfill.
Models of the first, second and third placed tyres were displayed on the Hankook stand at the 2012 SEMA automotive show in Las Vegas.