Goodyear shows concept tires that shape shift and generate electricity
While the cars were the ultimate stars of this week's gathering in Geneva, some rather interesting technology also was on display, including a pair of experimental tires - the Triple Tube and the BH03 -- that Goodyear claims could radically impact tire design. "These concept tires reimagine the role that tires may play in the future," said Joe Zekoski, Goodyear's senior vice president and chief technical officer. "We envision a future in which our products become more integrated with the vehicle and the consumer, more environmentally friendly and more versatile." That statement notwithstanding, Zekoski also notes that the firm has no plans to produce either of these tires in their current form.
Fitted to the Lexus LF-SA Concept, the Goodyear Triple Tube features a unique design that matches its name. Three individual chambers are positioned beneath its external tread - one in the center and one each on the inner and outer shoulder areas. The pressure in each can be automatically modified on the fly by an internal pump to optimize the tire's external profile to best cope with specific driving situations. Eco/Safety raises the pressure in all three to reduce rolling resistance for better fuel economy. Sporty lowers the pressure in the inner shoulder unit to expand the tire's contact patch and improve handling on dry road surfaces and Wet Traction maxes out pressure in the center chamber to enhance resistance to aquaplaning. This multi-chamber configuration also helps extend mobility should one or two of the tubes in the array be damaged.
Introduced on the Toyota C-HR Concept that debuted in Paris last fall and also turned up in Geneva, the Goodyear BH03 tire is capable of generating electric current. Intended primarily for future EV applications, the BH03 is constructed of thermoelectric and piezoelectric materials that form a 3D network on its inner structure. Collectively, they transform energy generated from heat and natural flexing motions into electric charge that can be used to replenish the vehicle's main battery pack as well as any other supplemental batteries.
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