I suppose this is what you call lateral thinking.
Tire manufacturer Goodyear revealed plans this week for a spherical automobile tire design that would allow autonomous vehicles to move sideways as easily as they move forward or backward.
In fact, the concept tire would enable truly omnidirectional movement by eliminating that pesky 4,000-year-old tradition known as the wheel-and-axle.
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Goodyear - officially the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company - announced the Eagle-360 concept at this year's 86th Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland. The company says the concept tire could "literally reshape" the future of self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles.
The immediate question that presents itself: How do you attach a spherical tire to a vehicle? While no technical details have been released, it appears that the Eagle-360 would employ a magnetic levitation system to suspend the vehicle over the top of its four (or more) wheels. Concept images suggest that the spherical tires would be almost entirely enclosed by the vehicle body itself.
Internal sensors would communicate road and weather conditions to the vehicle control system, as well as regulate even tire wear by constantly monitoring tread and air pressure. The omnidirectional movement system would enable the vehicle to navigate busy urban environments and parking lots.
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And of course, it would be a dream come for those of us who are still confounded by parallel parking. Goodyear is also incorporating biomimetic elements into the design: The 3-D printed tire tread mimics the pattern of brain coral and acts like an organic sponge, the company says.
Check out the space-age concept video below to get a sense of the Eagle-360 system in action.