At Hannover Messe 2012, the exhibition billed as the world’s most important technology event, a Leipzig, Germany-based research group unveiled what it calls an "adaptive tire."
According to the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK Leipzig) research group, the tire adapts itself to weather and road conditions. Regardless of whether a vehicle is being driven on the motorway or gravel roads, in sunshine, snow or rain, the adaptive tire reportedly recognizes the conditions and adapts its tread grooves automatically.
“Today’s tires are always a compromise between grip, braking ability and fuel consumption. They need to match numerous situations,” explained Professor Detlef Riemer, who heads the research group. “And you can’t simply change tires during a journey. Our completely new type of tire, on the other hand, can adapt even while on the move. Therefore, every trip is made with the optimal tire fitment.”
The group believes its development will make changing tires to match conditions unnecessary and also optimize wear durability, road noise and fuel consumption. “The driver needn’t think on adapting the tires, rather the tire thinks for itself,” Riemer added.
How do the tires function? “Elastic components will be incorporated into the tread, and activated by a control unit integrated within the tire,” explained Professor Riemer. Through this, the tire’s tread grooves, both longitudinal and cross-rib, will be individually moveable. “Changes in the tread take place via actuators or elastic materials integrated into the tread or under the casing,” he elaborated. “We have currently progressed to the stage where we are working with expanding material actuators, piezo ceramic actuators, shape memory alloys and so-called smart materials.”
The first functioning prototype tire is on display at Hannover Messe, April 23-27. “It is admittedly not a finished product, however the idea itself is outstanding. As a precaution, we have already secured a patent for this,” added Riemer. (Tyres & Accessories)