Mars Curiosity Rover has been on the red planet for the past 5 years and a routine check revealed damage to one of its wheels. To ensure that this does not happen in the future, NASA has come up with a new super-elastic tire that will replace the pneumatic tires currently being used in NASA rovers. These new wheels will have the ability to navigate the alien terrain without being damaged.
The superelastic tire is invented by both NASA Glenn and Goodyear and is inspired by Apollo Lunar Tires. These tires used memory shape alloys (which are mainly NiTi and its derivatives). These tires will be used for all future missions and can withstand high strain on load-bearing components. This means that these tires will be able to handle reversible strain and deformation and will eliminate the possibility of punter failures. Furthermore, it does not need an inner frame and results in a lighter wheel assembly.
“In addition, the use of shape memory alloys in the form of radial stiffeners, as opposed to springs, provides, even more, load-carrying potential and improved design flexibility. This type of compliant tire would allow for increased travel speeds in off-road applications,” NASA wrote in a press statement.
This technology is not restricted to Mars rovers but has its application in all-terrain vehicles. Military vehicle tires, construction vehicle tires, automobile tires, heavy equipment tires, agricultural vehicle tires, and aircraft vehicle tires can all see this technology being used.
The video further explains these tires.