These Spherical Tires Could Move the Self-Driving Car of the Future

YouTube

In the future, car wheels are spherical. Or so thinks Goodyear, which has bestowed upon the world this innovative oddity. 

Source: YouTube

Goodyear first announced the Eagle-360 tires at the Geneva International Auto Show. They're designed specifically with autonomous vehicles in mind, allowing for more flexible mobility than traditional tires offer.

How? For one, spherical tires let cars move laterally, so when cars eventually are able to park themselves, they can do so efficiently. 

Source: YouTube

The company also argued in a press release that spheres will allow for greater maneuverability when avoiding collisions. The tires are programmed to move in certain ways to avoid skidding from ice or water on roads.

The tire treads are modeled after brain coral and act similarly to a sponge, the company said. Parts of the treads are hard when dry, but soft when wet, to absorb and wick off water using centrifugal force. They can also be made custom to handle specific environmental factors in the region where they're being sold. 

Source: YouTube

Perhaps most interesting about these tires is the way they're attached to the car: magnetic levitation. This type of suspension is most commonly recognized in high-speed maglev trains, which hover over a rail system.

Source: YouTube

For now these tires are just a concept, but Goodyear is hoping they'll stoke ideas for future autonomous vehicles.