After supplying air-filled tires for more than 100 years, American tiremaker Goodyear has announced that it is trialing airless tires for an autonomous delivery company.
Airless tires are the next big thing in sustainability as companies attempt to not only increase the lifetimes of their products but also use more sustainable ingredients in the manufacturing process. Last year, we had covered how French tiremaker Michelin was doing both with its airless tires that were being readied for a 2024 launch.
Goodyear's approach is slightly different in terms of gradually increasing the use of sustainable material in its conventional tires, as revealed in another recent press release. Its airless or non-pneumatic tires (NPT) as the company likes to call them are being independently and were trialed on Starship's robots, (not related to Elon Musk's Starship).
Founded by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, the creative brains behind yesteryear applications Skype, Starship Technologies has a fleet of autonomous robots that deliver food, groceries, and packages at a local level without the need for human intervention during transit. So far, the company has made over two million deliveries and is looking to scale up.
"To make sure we can keep up with the growing demand for our services, we need tires that are reliable and keep our robots on the move around the clock and around the globe," said Siim Viilup, Manager of Mechanical Engineering manager at Starship Technologies.
The delivery company's concerns pertain to tire health and maintenance needs. So, Goodyear custom-designed a tire that could not only improve the tire's life but also reduce the maintenance activities needed for Starship's fleet. "The micro delivery space presents a different set of needs and our NPT technology is ideal to meet those needs to help enable a maintenance-free and long-lasting experience," Michael Rachita, Goodyear’s senior program manager for non-pneumatic tires said in the press release.
The two companies have now entered an in-field testing phase at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) where early data has shown positive results with respect to braking and vibration dampening and treadwear, the press release said. "It’s great to see these new tires offering reliability as well as cost savings as we scale our business," Viilup added.
Airless tires are not just for driving around on Earth, they have found themselves on vehicle concepts for the Moon too.