By Andrew Liszewski
If you thought the acceleration of your favorite super car was hard on its tires, consider what the landing gear on a plane goes through. A 747 will touch down at speeds from 120mph to 160mph depending on how much fuel is left in the tanks, and that sudden acceleration can lead to extreme wear and tear on the tires. To combat this problem, some aircraft use mechanical systems to get the tires spinning before they hit the runway, but not only are these expensive, but they also add weight to the plane.
So aerospace engineer Gecheng Zha from the University of Miama came up with the idea of tires with built-in airfoils that will automatically start spinning on their own once they’re lowered into the airflow. They’re far cheaper and lighter than the previously mentioned systems, and there’s little to no chance of mechanical failure either.
Apparently though, this idea has already been tested in the past by both airplane manufacturers as well as NASA. The bigger issues that arose were both controlling the speed of the tires, as well as having to deal with the gyroscopic effects produced by the spinning.