By Andrew Liszewski
Designed primarily for use on ‘other worlds’ where AAA isn’t readily available to change a flat tire (yet!), NASA and Goodyear worked together to develop this new spring-based tire that was recently honored with an R&D 100 award, which Goodyear’s press release refers to as the “Oscars of Innovation.”
The airless tire is constructed from 800 load bearing springs which allow them to carry loads up to 10X heavier than the wire-based tires developed for NASA’s lunar rover many years ago. While the benefits of the new tires also makes them suitable for applications here on Earth, they were primarily designed for off-world exploration where traditional rubber tires are problematic. Not only do they perform differently depending on the temperature (which can have extreme variations on a place like the moon) but unfiltered solar radiation degrades them more quickly, which can lead to deflation. To borrow a phrase from Timex, these new spring tires can ‘take a licking on keep on ticking’ since thanks to redundancy they’ll still operate efficiently even if some of the springs are damaged.