02 April 2019 || 6 min read
TransportUP recently conducted an interview with the designers and engineers behind the Goodyear Aero tire, which can be both a rotor set for flight and a wheel for traditional land transportation.
Although this tire is many years away, it incorporates many of the key technology elements that Goodyear is currently adding to its tires, and pushes Goodyear forward into the age of Urban Air Mobility. While this kind of design was once a pipe dream, it now represents a step into the future for Goodyear.
According to Sebastien Fontaine – Senior Industrial Designer from the Advanced Design Studio at the Goodyear Innovation Center in Luxembourg, Jean Francois Vandeclee – Manager, Innovation Beyond Tires at the Goodyear Innovation Center in Luxembourg, the Aero tire was based on three concepts Goodyear is currently working on: non-pneumatics, optical sensors, and seamless mobility.is solid rather than inflated by air.
AERO Concept full view
Non-Neumatics: A key feature of the Goodyear Aero is that it’s a non-pneumatic tire. This means the tire is solid rather than inflated by air. The weight of the vehicle is held up by the structural design of the tire itself, often as a series of spokes. In the Goodyear Aero, these spokes are the actually the propellors for a potential UAM vehicle. In traditional vehicles, non-neumatic tires can reduce the need for maintenance and the possibility of punctures, and in a UAM vehicle, they could reduce size and weight, which is an important factor for flight.
An earlier pneumatic tire by Goodyear
Optical Sensing: One of Goodyear’s key areas of innovation is optical sensing for its tires which can communicate crucial information back to the driver. In traditional tires, optical sensors can provide proactive protection from flats, and allow users, through data, to maintain their tires to make them last far longer. With a flying vehicle, monitoring the health of the Goodyear Aero would be absolutely crucial. According to Goodyear, the Aero tire ‘pushes optical sensing to its limits.” Goodyear hopes to use the Aero tire to demonstrate the sophistication of its optical-sensing tech.
Seamless Mobility: To Goodyear, this was the most important guiding force of the Aero’s design. According to Goodyear, one of the greatest design challenges of the Aero was to keep the design flat, and encased. Why did they do this? So that any UAM vehicle in a ‘mega-city’ using this tire could actually dock directly onto the side a building. Goodyear designed the potential power ratios of the Aero in such a way that a vehicle could lift off the ground and hover using only two of its tires.
A UAM vehicle taking off from two Goodyear Aero Tires
A UAM vehicle with Goodyear Aero Tires docking onto the side of a building
Goodyear ultimately hopes that the Goodyear Aero will allow passengers to experience vehicles that are truly ubiquitous, in that they can fly when necessary and drive when it makes sense. Goodyear believes that any vehicles using its tire will be autonomous, and has already begun talking with numerous UAM companies about the potential of the Goodyear Aero. We won’t see a prototype anytime soon because according to Goodyear, innovation and product development can actually happen faster through digital design and test simulations. However, Goodyear is fully moving forward with the next steps of the Aero design and implementation, meaning more exciting things to come in the near future.
New From Goodyear: Wind-Generated Power Production:
Goodyear exclusively revealed to TransportUP that the Aero will also be able to actually generate supplemental electricity from wind, acting as a wind turbine. When the tire is not in use for flight, its rotors will capable of spinning as a dynamo to help charge the vehicle’s batteries or other electricity storage vessels. Given that these UAM vehicles will most likely be electric, this functionality gives the Aero design another extra edge.