Time to reinvent the wheel- er…I mean, tire.
Last year, Michelin announced they have been developing a new type of airless tire called the Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System (UPTIS). Like the name implies, you’ll never have to worry about getting a flat tire. Instead of the tire being supported by air pressure, Uptis features a rib suspension system that also acts as a shock absorber. So even if you do drive over a rusty nail or a particularly nasty pothole, Uptis will continue to roll along just fine. Not to mention you’ll never have to worry about tire pressure ever again.
Now if you’re like me, you took one look at that photo of Uptis and thought, “Well, dirt and debris are going to get caught in those ribs. Wouldn’t that be just as bad as a flat tire?” Luckily, Michelin shows in these videos that mud and snow can be ejected as you drive.
As impressive as these are, Uptis isn’t the first airless tire prototype. NASA has even used airless tires, called Superelastic Tires, for their Mars Missions. They work a little differently in that they’re made up of nickel titanium and are capable of rearranging and regaining its shape based on the weight of the load and the terrain.
Back on Earth, these airless tires are currently only being used for military and construction vehicles, but Michelin is hoping to have Uptis on the road by 2024.
To do this however, Michelin needed a good testing environment. An environment filled with debris and potholes. Roads that can really rough up Uptis and put it to the test.
So they picked Michigan.
A number of Bolt EV electric cars will be equipped with the Uptis tires and will be driving around the streets of Michigan. There, Michelin will be able to test Uptis in rain, sun, sleet, snow, or whatever hellish weather Mother Nature decides to throw at Michigan.
What do you think? Once available, would you consider buying airless tires?