Could Flat Tyres Be a Thing of the Past?

Friday, 22 March 2013

In exciting news for the motoring industry, a company has announced that it will be putting an airless tyre for road-going cars into production next year.

The tyre uses a resilient plastic honeycomb structure in place of the compressed air that conventional tyres use to absorb bumps. The manufacturer claims that up to 30% of the structure can be destroyed without the tyre becoming defective - which should mean less need for replacement tyres, and could potentially make the inconvenience of jacking up your car at the side of the road to deal with a puncture a thing of the past.

Polaris, a US manufacturer of all-terrain vehicles, intends to launch the tyre in early 2014. The tyre was originally developed by Resilient Technologies, who were funded by the US Defence Department to provide an airless tyre for use by the military. Polaris bought Resilient last year with the intention of selling the tyres to civilian customers.

Polaris spokesperson Jason Difuccia told Fox News: “The tyre works very similar to a bicycle wheel, where the load is carried in tension across the top of the wheel. The bottom of the wheel is designed to give in to obstacles like rocks, curbs, and other terrain.”

Thanks to the tyre's original intended usage, it has undergone military-grade testing - this includes being driven for thousands of miles and having 0.50 calibre rounds shot at it, which should make dealing with day-to-day hazards like potholes a breeze by comparison! Advantages that the Polaris tyre has over conventional tyres include it offering a less bumpy ride and being quieter when driven on tarmac.

Polaris business development representative Joaquin Salas explained: “There is nowhere for the sound to pool, so there’s no humming or drumming like there is with a standard pneumatic tyre."

While Polaris is the first company to have set a launch date for their airless tyre, they are not the first to have designed such a device. In 2005, pneumatic tyre giant Michelin revealed their "Tweel", an airless tyre that uses plastic spokes instead of the Polaris tyre's honeycomb structure - but it has never been put into production. Similarly, Bridgestone unveiled their version of the airless tyre in 2011, which is still undergoing testing, with a production date yet to be set.

It seems that we're still some way away from seeing airless tyres rolled out as standard across the industry, but to help in the event of a tyre puncture or other breakdown issue, Swiftcover offers a range of Breakdown Recovery packages as optional car insurance add-ons to get you back on the road as soon as possible.

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