Michelin’s airless tires have become the trendsetter and now the South Korea-based tire giant Hankook Tire is focused on more sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility and has been working on non-pneumatic tire designs since 2010. The company has recently unveiled a new airless tire concept at this year’s CES.
The i-Flex tire was presented at CES with Hyundai’s modular Plug & Drive platform in cooperation with the Hyundai Motor Company. The tire design offers “excellent shock absorption and load-bearing capacity” due to its biomimetic design while its airlessness enhances safety and cuts down maintenance costs, making it optimal for autonomous vehicle concepts. The tread of the tire is specially designed for multidirectional vehicle movement and blends with the characteristic honeycomb design of the tire concept.
The i-Flex concept tires comprise multi-layer interlocking spokes that are inspired by the cellular structure of living organisms. This enables them to give impressive stability. Hankook’s press release states: “The multi-layer interlocking spoke structures the cell in three dimensions for better shock absorption while allowing hexagonal and tetragonal cell structures of different rigidities to join together for more stable load support.”
The concept tire possesses a 10-inch (25 cm) format with a diameter of 15 inches (38 cm) and a width of 4 inches (10 cm) for the time being. Hankook said that it will continue designing more airless tire concepts that are inspired by the i-Flex in hopes of mass production.
Airless tires could very well prove to be integral to autonomous mobility.