An electric autonomous vehicle from General Motors (GM) is set to serve as the first production application of a revolutionary airless tyre that was unveiled this week by Michelin.
The Uptis – an acronym of Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System – is similar in concept but different in its composition to the airless Tweel, which was first shown in 2005 and subsequently made production on skid-steer loaders and lawnmowers. It was revealed at Michelin’s Movin’On sustainability conference in Montréal, Canada.
The tyre consists of a flexible spoke structure made from rubber and a patented new resin-infused fibreglass reinforcement. The flexible ring is wrapped in a conventional tyre tread that could eventually be ‘recharged’ from worn using 3D printing. Just like with a pneumatic tyre, the properties of both the tread and the structure can be tuned for different types of vehicles.
Michelin is working with multiple car makers to bring the Uptis prototype to full production. Engineers say there’s no reason why it couldn’t be fitted to anything from a light truck to a performance car, electric or combustion-engine powered.