Michelin Reinvents The Wheel With Airless, Puncture-Proof Tyres: Tweel
France based world’s 3rd largest tyre manufacturer: Michelin plans to reinvent the wheel this time with it’s flagship product Tweel. The biggest advantage of Tweel is that it can never be flat: its airless, puncture proof hence it cannot burst or leak pressure.
The term Tweel (combination of Tyre and Wheel) does not use a bladder full of compressed air, as traditional tyres do. Instead, Tweel’s inner hub connects to flexible polyurethane spokes, which are used to support an outer rim which absorbs the outer shock which compressed air are meant to do.
After the invention of radial tyres in the 1950s, this is being regarded as the biggest innovation in the tyre industry.
You can check out the demo and overview of Tweel in the video presentation below
This airless radial tyres does not use metal or alloy spokes for creating the rim, but instead uses polyurethane as the main material, which are flexible and deformable. Hence, the tire and wheel assembly is combined into one single, solid unit. As there is no air, Tweel can never become flat.
Tweel was first invented in 2005 when Michelin introduced the concept and a prototype during North American International Auto Show. Time Magazine had declared Tweel as one of the amazing inventions of 2005. After rigorous testing, Michelin introduced Tweel in industries such as landscaping, construction, contracting, refuse/recycling and agriculture in 2012, where the results have been amazing.
Considering the advantages of Tweel over traditional tyres, NASA has contacted Michelin to develop tyres for its next generation Lunar Rover vehicles, which has resulted in Lunar Rover Initiative AB Scarab wheels, also known as “Michelin Lunar Wheel”.
Now, Michelin is all set to mass produce Tweel for commercial usage and the first factory has already been set up at 1.35 lakh square-foot facility, set up in the Greenville area, South Carolina, USA.
Tests and usability experiments are currently on with Tweel. As observed by automobile experts, the biggest problem as of now with Tweel is noise. As the vehicle moves faster, the noise becomes more, thereby causing an unpleasant experience. Another issue which has been observed is vibrations.
However, during the 2013 Hot Rod Power Tour long distance road trip event in June 2013, three cars participated using Tweels, and the results have astonished all.
None the less, the possibilities look immense with Tweel. Imagine a scenario where your car/bike keeps on moving, on all terrains without any scare of flat tyres. Not only Michelin which derive a huge competitive advantage, but drivers all over the world will thank them profusely for inventing something which only looked like a fantasy before.
What is your take on this new Tyre invention?