In Tokyo, Bridgestone unveils airless, puncture-proof tires

Summary:At the Tokyo Motor Show, Bridgestone's airless new tire is puncture-proof and recyclable.

Automotive tire maker Bridgestone will formally introduce this weekend a new "airless" model that it says is puncture-proof.

The technology, which will officially debut at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show beginning tomorrow, uses resin spokes to support the vehicle's load.

Instead of running from the rim to the tread, as with conventional tires, the recyclable thermoplastic resin spokes are designed at such an angle that "the force that deforms the tread does not become a turning force," according to Tech-On. Two sets of spokes reinforce each other for stability. (To be fair, the concept model is just nine inches in diameter.)

The bottom line is that there's no air, which means there are no debilitating punctures, which saves on maintenance and headaches.

It's not the first time we've seen "hard" wheels before, of course. The military uses them all the time in harsh environments; as for the consumer auto market, rival Michelin introduced its Tweel airless concept tire (pictured, at right) in 2006 -- but that product suffered from vibration, heat and noise problems at high speeds, according to my CNET colleague Tim Hornyak.

Is this tiny model the answer? Probably not, but it's the latest step toward a more durable -- and sustainable -- tire for full-size vehicles. The question is whether the price will be right.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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