New Tire Technology May Provide More Safety For Our Troops
In everyday driving scenarios, your tires are among the 3 or 4 most important safety features your vehicle has. Looking at them as a safety feature may seem a little bit of a stretch, but when it comes right down to it they are the only contact between yourself and the pavement. If you move out of the everyday and go to a combat zone, tires could mean the difference between life and death. For this reason, a new kind of tire has been developed for the US Military that could help bring more of our men and women home.
The research and development was conducted by Resilient Technologies and Wisconsin-Madison's Polymer Engineering Center and brought about an open sided tire with a Honeycomb interior structure. The design is similar to the Michelin "Tweel" that was developed a few years ago as part of a study on airless tires and their feasibility.
After the study concluded, developers decided the honeycomb was still the best suited for the job, as the construction will provide a very balanced load distribution for the heavy vehicles it is intended for, while also providing very efficient way to remove heat.
Currently, most of the vehicles are using run-flat tires that were not made to carry the additional weight of armor. If an IED is used to disable the vehicle, the run-flats may not provide enough support for the vehicle, leaving troops without a means of escape.
The new honeycomb design does not rely on a run-flat system, therefore almost completely reducing the risk of being immobilized during an attack. The design also keeps road noise and vibration to a minimum and closely mimics the behavior of tradition air filled tires.
Production and delivery is set to start in 2011, with prices competitive to, if not less than tires that are currently available. Whether the technology will cross over into the civilian market is unknown, but if the past predicts the future there is a very good chance we will see them on everyday vehicles within the next 10 years.