It’s not too often that we literally reinvent the wheel, but that’s exactly what tire manufacturer Goodyear is doing with the Eagle 360 concept tire – a completely spherical tire built with self-driving cars in mind.
Tire concepts usually account for what manufacturers believe the future of driving will be. And Goodyear is betting, along with many other car and tire producers, that the future won’t have us driving at all, but being chauffeured around in autonomous cars. Tesla Motors launched several groundbreaking autonomous features in its Model S sedan last year, and Google has already developed fully autonomous cars that are being tested around Silicon Valley today.
Now Goodyear intends to bring autonomous development to the next level with the Eagle 360 tire.
So if the tires are a sphere, where’s the axel? Goodyear designed an internal structure that allows the car to magnetically levitate above the wheels – reducing a lot of friction and eliminating the need for a differential. Cars of the future won’t even need a mechanical drivetrain or traditional suspension, as the air between the wheels and tires will provide a natural cushion on the road.
Autonomous cars live and die by their abilities to judge road conditions and act accordingly. Sensors in the Eagle 360 tires communicate with the vehicle (and with other nearby cars, creating a smarter network on the road) to help the computer system make smarter decisions as it drives. The rubber on the Eagle 360 tires can also stiffen during dry conditions and soften during wet conditions, to maintain the best traction and efficiency.
A traditional tire can only move forwards and backwards, but the Eagle 360 can move forwards, backwards, left, right, and probably diagonally if the car needed. This function doesn’t mean much for driving down the freeway, but it will absolutely change the way we design parking lots, garages, and street parking. Autonomous cars could even parallel park with less than one inch of clearance on either side, adding thousands or even millions of available parking spots across the country.
More than a concept
The Eagle 360 is still a concept, but it’s created based on technology we know is coming. This isn’t a flying car or some multipurpose vehicle that can drive into the ocean. These tires are real, and they will change the way we ride in a car forever.
While you’re waiting for the future to arrive, visit TireBuyer.com for all of Goodyear’s present-day designs!