MONTREAL, QUE. Imagine this: a tire that is airless, made of recycled materials, and will never inflate. That is what Michelin calls its Vision Concept.
Terry Gettys, executive vice president of research and development at Michelin Group, unveiled the prototype of the concept during a press conference here at Michelin’s Movin'On sustainable mobility event.
“It’s a tire that is connected with a vehicle that is connected with drivers that are connected,” Gettys explained. “It’s a long-term concept which brings together our vision of all the elements of sustainable mobility. It’s a very realistic dream. All the components are current research initiatives at Michelin.”
Gettys noted that the tire should be thought of in three parts:
1. As a wheel with no air, designed to last as long as the vehicle. The company said its durability comes from its honeycomb structure, which is inspired by natural models. It is made of recycled materials and it is fully recyclable.
2. As a tread that can be "replenished" by a 3D printer. The material used, which draws on cold cure technology, delivers the same performances as a conventional tread, according to Michelin, but it is biodegradable. Michelin explained that the advantage of this concept is that when a tire’s tread is worn or road conditions have changed, a driver or fleet can print the tread via 3D printing technology.
3. As a connected concept that communicates with a vehicle and the vehicle communicates with it. Michelin said users would be informed of the wear on their tread and program a tread reprint, choosing the type of tread pattern they need at that particular time for their intended tire use.