The old saying goes “don’t reinvent the wheel,” but Goodyear has done just that. The 118-year-old company has created a spherical, levitation-mounted, sensor-monitored, biomimicry-designed concept tire that, in theory, could someday play a significant role in reducing car accidents. The company wants to improve on the wheel because it knows the profound effect tires have on the handling and stability of an automobile. Engineers of this concept tire embrace the fact that tires have the essential function as the primary connector to the road; they know that design and manufacturing are integrally entwined with that connectedness.
Tire of the Future
Goodyear has been manufacturing tires for 118 years, but the company is not stuck in the past. They have their sights set more than a decade and a half into the future. Their most recent concept tire was designed to be mounted on autonomous vehicles of 2035. Navigant Research projects that by then, 85 million autonomous-capable cars will be sold each year. This fact is relevant to a car wreck attorney.
Dubbed Eagle-360, Goodyear’s concept tire incorporates the Internet of things (IoT), serving as a springboard for emerging automobile engineering sciences. This smart inter-networking technology, has embedded electronics, software and sensors. It collects and exchanges road and other data with the vehicle, as well as with other vehicles nearby. The data exchange is iterative: incoming data is interpreted over the Net, then intelligent information is fed back. These autonomous vehicles could then supposedly adjust themselves according to their surroundings. With the complexities of electronics and possible inter-networking failings, the car wreck attorney of the future will be well-versed in legal matters that are related to the inner workings of these technologies.
Safety and Maneuverability Features
The tire’s contribution to safety involves the combination of four main features: spherical shape, magnetic levitation, sensors and biomimicry:
The Spherical Tire
This concept was developed exclusively for self-driving vehicles. Abruptly turning with the present steering system could flip the vehicle and quickly devolve into a consultation with a car wreck attorney. That’s because an axis-based system cannot maneuver a turn without forward momentum. However, these concept tires can move individually at any angle and in any direction. The multi-orientation ball-shaped tires can be controlled independent from one another. This gives the vehicle motion in all directions and can reduce motion quickly. This superior maneuverability must be controlled by intelligent connectivity.
Active technology senses potential hazards, such as slippery roads or sudden infringing obstructions. For example, on black ice the tires interact with the vehicle and objects nearby to reduce sliding. These tires can smoothly turn the vehicle from 1 to 360 degrees. This allows efficient parking, by crab-rolling sideways.
This technology has no central axis to attach a drivetrain. So, the Goodyear Eagle-360 concept suspends the tire from the car using magnetic fields, similar to technologies incorporated in maglev trains. If successfully engineered, traditional springs and suspension systems would be a thing of the past. Passenger comfort and noise reduction, especially on Chicago and area roadways, would increase significantly. Theoretically, safety would be improved, resulting in fewer car wreck attorneys.
Tire sensors can be found on most new vehicles today. For instance, even the most rudimentary technology measures air-pressure and communicates readings to the driver. The Eagle-360 concept tire promises to surpass that, including regulating wear of the treads to extend mileage and monitoring road surface conditions to caution the driver and vehicles driving nearby.
Biomimicry is the process of using nature to guide the development of new technology. The tread concept mimics the ingenious ways nature solves the problem of gripping the surface. Goodyear engineers looked to the pattern of brain coral and the texture of fingerprints for inspiration to solve two problems:
- A wheel that rolls around a single axis can function with linear treads. But, a ball-shaped tire would need to grip no matter which direction it goes. Brain coral provides the pattern where any patch of tire in contact with the road would always have grip. This tread could be modified according to weather conditions in the region where the car is being driven, and 3-D printed.
- Like fingerprints, the tire’s design reduces hydroplaning. The texture of the tire gets grippier when wet by absorbing water and then using centrifugal force to expel it. Then when dry, the material tightens up again.
Recalls, Investigations, and Complaints
In a perfect world, manufacturers can be trusted unquestioningly. Unfortunately, along with innovation and development often comes error and safety concerns. Recalls are on the rise and manufacturers are concealing facts, while consumer confidence is at an all-time low. Following a manufacturers, complaint process doesn’t bring resolution after a car accident. An experienced car wreck attorney can wade through the myriad of complicated legal issues that will unfailingly arise out of new automotive technologies.