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Though this was interesting. I wouldn't want to be the first person to run on bald tires. Pictures to follow...
MICHELIN LETS THE AIR OUT OF FUTURE TIRE INNOVATION Michelin announces two fitments for its revolutionary non-pneumatic Tweel(tm)
DETROIT, M.I. (January 9, 2005) - Today at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Michelin showcased a potential future for mobility, an integrated tire and wheel combination missing one ingredient that is vital for traditional tire performance...air. The company unveiled the first real-world fitments for its revolutionary "Tweel" - which operates entirely without air. View the photo gallery.
"Major revolutions in mobility may come along only once in a hundred years," said Terry Gettys, president of Michelin Americas Research and Development Center in Greenville, S.C. "But a new century has dawned and Tweel has proven its potential to transform mobility. Tweel enables us to reach levels of performance that quite simply aren't possible with today's conventional pneumatic technology." Michelin's Tweel is in production and available as an enhancement for future iBOT(tm) mobility systems. Invented by Dean Kamen, the iBOT(tm) mobility device has the ability to climb stairs and navigate uneven terrain, offering mobility freedom impossible with traditional wheelchairs. Additionally, Segway LLC's Concept Centaur, a prototype that applies self-balancing technology to a four-wheel device, has also been equipped with Tweel to increase its performance potential.
Beyond these first real-world applications, Michelin has additional projects for Tweel on construction skidsteers and a variety of military vehicles. The most intriguing application may be Michelin's early prototype Tweel fitment for passenger cars. The mobility company released video of promising Tweel performance on an Audi A4.
"The Tweel automotive application, as demonstrated on the Audi, is definitely a concept, a stretch application with strong future potential," said Gettys. "Our concentration is to enter the market with lower-speed, lower-weight Tweel applications. What we learn from our early successes will be applied to Tweel fitments for passenger cars and beyond."
Benefits of Tweel(tm):
The heart of Tweel innovation is its deceptively simple looking hub and spoke design that replaces the need for air pressure while delivering performance previously only available from pneumatic tires. The flexible spokes are fused with a flexible wheel that deforms to absorb shock and rebound with unimaginable ease. Without the air needed by conventional tires, Tweel still delivers pneumatic-like performance in weight-carrying capacity, ride comfort, and the ability to "envelope" road hazards.
Michelin has also found that it can tune Tweel performances independently of each other, which is a significant change from conventional tires. This means that vertical stiffness (which primarily affects ride comfort) and lateral stiffness (which affects handling and cornering) can both be optimized, pushing the performance envelope in these applications and enabling new performances not possible for current inflated tires. The Tweel prototype, demonstrated on the Audi A4, is within five percent of the rolling resistance and mass levels of current pneumatic tires. That translates to within one percent of the fuel economy of the OE fitment.
Additionally, Michelin has increased the lateral stiffness by a factor of five, making the prototype unusually responsive in its handling. Future of Tweel(tm) Technology: For Michelin, Tweel is a long-term vision that represents the next step in a long path of industry-changing innovations. Fifty years ago, Michelin invented the radial tire and there is no question that radial tire technology will continue as the standard for a long time to come.
Michelin continues to advance the performance of the radial tire in areas such as rolling resistance, wear life and grip. In the short-term, the lessons learned from Tweel research are being applied to improve those conventional tire performances. In the future, Tweel may reinvent the way that vehicles move. Checking tire pressure, fixing flats, highway blow-outs and balancing between traction and comfort could all fade into memory.
About Michelin:
The world's largest tire maker, Michelin www.michelin.com) manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America employs 23,000 and operates 21 plants in 17 locations.
 

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Don't see any pictures of the Tweel packed with snow and ice and WAY out of balance because of it. Wonder how that would work out.
 

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YellowSLK230 - 3/16/2005 7:12 AM

Don't see any pictures of the Tweel packed with snow and ice and WAY out of balance because of it. Wonder how that would work out.
My thoughts exactly. How about parking in a slush puddle at night and finding your car frozen in place the next AM.[xx(]
 

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My first thought is that a combination of "tweel" technology and conventional pneumatic construction might be an alternative way to make a "run-flat" tire. In some sense, that is what the Michelin PAX system is, with mechanical tread support for a punctured tire. I will be glad to see this technology perfected; flat tires are a driving hazard we no longer need to put up with.
 

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The tires will most likely be made so that they have side walls. At the moment it's just for show and tell.
 

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At the moment, the problem is the noise they produce.
 

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The "tire monkey's are having problems with conventional tires.....

can you imagine what your rims will look like after they put something like these on them ....[:D][:)][:D][:(][;)][B)]
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, they would have to put sidewalls on for practical and aesthetic reasons (although I'm sure they would have some open for the custom look). They have a couple of video of a set mounted to an armoured vehicle. The vehicle was pulled over a mine, but the tread survived. Another scene had a car drive over a nail board without a problem.

The naysayers have little to worry about. A production version is still about ten years out. One downside would be the cost of a tire would dramatically increase, since blowouts and punctures would be vitirually eliminated.
 
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