Goodyear Aero tyre concept targets flying cars

By CARSIFU | 14 March 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, its people and its laws are no way near ready for flying cars just yet even as a certain minister said a prototype is ready.

However on the global scene, there is a production flying car called Liberty Pioneer from Dutch company PAL-V that is already taking orders for delivery this year. But it costs a pretty penny at €499,000 (RM2.4mil) before taxes. Other than that, there's the added cost of getting a pilot's licence and the need for access to a small airstrip to take off and land.

PAL-V said at the ongoing Geneva Motor Show that it has so far secured 75 orders from customers in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

While flying cars will remain a fringe idea for years to come, tyre maker Goodyear is thinking ahead with a mind-bending tyre concept it claims would work both as a tyre for driving on the road and a “propeller” for flying through the sky.

Yes, the Goodyear Aero concept is a two-in-one tyre designed for the flying cars of the future and is being showcased at the Geneva Motor Show.

While the Aero is a purely conceptual design, some of its featured technologies, such as a non-pneumatic structure and intelligent tyre capabilities, are being developed by Goodyear today, while others might become the basis for new ideas and potentially new products in the future.

“Goodyear’s concepts are meant to trigger a debate on the tyres and transport technologies for a new mobility ecosystem,” said Goodyear chief technology officer Chris Helsel.

“With mobility companies looking to the sky for the answer to the challenges of urban transport and congestion, our work on advanced tyre architectures and materials led us to imagine a wheel that could serve both as a traditional tyre on the road and as a propulsion system in the sky.”

The Aero concept includes a number of newfangled features:

> Multimodal Design: The Aero is a multimodal tilt-rotor concept. It would serve as a drive train to transfer and absorb forces to and from the road in a traditional orientation and an aircraft propulsion system to provide lift in another orientation. With capable vehicles, the Aero would give future commuters the freedom to move seamlessly from the road to the sky.

> Non-Pneumatic Structure: The concept’s spokes would provide support to carry the weight of the vehicle and act as fan blades to provide lift when the tyre is tilted. This unique airless tyre uses a non-pneumatic structure that is flexible enough to dampen shocks when driving on the road, and strong enough to rotate at the high speeds necessary for the rotors to create vertical lift.

> Magnetic Propulsion: The Aero concept would use magnetic force to provide frictionless propulsion. This would enable the high rotating speeds required to drive the vehicle on the ground and, when the wheel is tilted, lift a vehicle into the air and propel it forward.

> Optical Sensing: The Aero would use light-based, fibre optic sensors to monitor road conditions, tyre wear and the structural integrity of the tyre itself.