Goodyear ‘Spring Tyre’ Engineered to Withstand the Harshest Environments on the Moon and Possibly the Toughest Places on Earth
The Goodyear ‘Spring Tyre’, which was co-developed by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), represents a future tyre concept that could be used to explore the outer reaches of space, and possibly the most brutal terrains here on earth.
The Spring Tyre offers 800 load bearing springs and is designed to carry heavy vehicles over much greater distances than the wire mesh tyre previously used on the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which Goodyear also helped design and construct in 1971. The air-less tyre could allow for broad exploration and potential development of future outposts on the moon, or possibly allow vehicles to travel to places on earth where current tyres could never go.
“This tyre is extremely durable and very energy efficient,” noted Joe Lettieri, Goodyear’s lead researcher on the Spring Tyre project. “The spring design contours to any surface providing maximum traction. All of the energy used to deform the tyre is returned when the springs rebound, so it will not generate heat like a pneumatic tyre.”
While a hard impact might cause a pneumatic tyre to puncture and deflate, any trauma to the Spring Tyre would likely only damage one of the 800 load bearing springs. Along with having this ultra-redundant characteristic, the Spring Tyre has a combination of overall stiffness yet flexibility that allows off-road vehicles to travel fast over rough terrain with relatively little motion being transferred to the vehicle.
According to NASA and Goodyear engineers, development of the original Apollo lunar mission tyres, and the new Spring Tyre were driven by the fact that traditional rubber, pneumatic (air-filled) tyres used on Earth have little utility on the moon. This is because rubber properties vary significantly between the extreme cold and hot temperatures experienced in the shaded and directly sunlit areas of the moon. Furthermore, unfiltered solar radiation degrades rubber, and pneumatic tyres pose a high risk of deflation on the moon.
In 2010, Goodyear was honored with the R&D 100 award for its Spring Tyre technology. Goodyear continues to run tests on Spring Tyre in their R&D laboratories to determine potential applications for this technology. The Spring Tyre will be on display on the Goodyear stand 2056 at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show from March 6-18.