Tires without air might not just be a luxury for push lawn mowers anymore. Bridgestone was at the 2020 Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in Georgia. It announced that it was working on air-free tires for trailers. The design, shown below, is most likely patented with its unique design of high-strength, flexible spokes.
Benefits of an Airless Tire
Jon Kimpel, executive director of new mobility solution engineering for Bridgestone Americas Inc., says evolving the airless tire is going to cause a revolution in the transportation industry.
“As mobility advances, we see these sophisticated fleets turning to technology solutions and innovative products as a way to improve operations and drive a wider profit margin for their fleets. When tires don’t need to be filled with air, this essentially erases the downtime associated with a flat tire, improving safety and making mobility more efficient.”
Bridgestone’s announcement webpage states the potential benefits of airless tires are fivefold:
- No flat tires. Sharp objects on the road might tear the material slightly, but it will not compromise the entire integrity of the tire. If the tire needs to be replaced, it should be able to at least carry you to a shop.
- No need for a spare tire. Because airless tires are much more resilient to obstacles, a spare tire will not be essential gear. This leads to less weight and better fuel efficiency.
- A worthy investment. By buying airless tires for trailers, commercial vehicles save time and money on maintenance.
- Less energy loss. A simpler design that keeps the tire shape steady reduces rolling resistance. This lowers CO2 emissions and leads to better fuel efficiency while not compromising on traction.
- Friendly to the environment. A recyclable tire made from recycled materials means less rubber in the ocean. The tires are also retreadable, further reducing impact.
Currently, these airless tires are only being designed for trailers, but Bridgestone hopes to scale it further to cover tractor tires. 60% of heavy-duty tire failures occur in the tractor, so working on an airless tractor tire is a worthy upgrade to the trailer tire.
The release date for when the trailer tires hit the market for public use has yet to be stated. With it, Bridgestone adds to their current lineup of air-free tire solutions such as bicycle tires. Only time will tell if air tires become a thing of the past, but clearly airless tires have made leaps and bounds far beyond the standard push lawn mower tires.
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