You hate flats, loathe checking tire pressure, and constantly run your rubber to its breaking point, but despite all those gripes, the lowly tire hasn’t evolved much over the last hundred years. Sure, there are new, exciting compounds that can make them stick harder, improve fuel economy, or make it to the next gas station after a puncture. But at their core, they’re still rubber donuts fitted to a metal hoop and filled with air. We can do better, so Hankook is out to reinvent the most important part of your car.The Korean tire manufacturer has taken concepts originally developed by Bridgestone and other companies to the next level, combining the wheel and the tire into one cohesive unit that absorbs bumps better than their predecessors while negating the chances of ever getting a flat. The i-Flex is completely air-free, and even better, it has the potential to be a greener solution than traditional tires by both boosting fuel economy and being 95 percent recyclable.The i-Flex uses an intricate array of geometric cells lining the inside of the “wheel,” allowing the whole unit to act as an integrated suspension component. The energy from bumps and ruts is distributed and dissipated equally across the structure, providing the kind of consistent rigidity that a traditional tire and wheel combination can’t achieve. Because overall weight is reduced, fuel consumption is lower and handling has the potential to be improved as unsprung weight is removed from each corner. Hankook claims that the i-Flex’s design also runs quieter than its pneumatic counterparts, something that’s key in electric vehicles where every sound is amplified because of a lack of engine noise. It’s a trick design that’s bound to make it to roads at some point, but Hankook isn’t saying when.
via Reinvented Wheels Take the Air Out of Your Tires | Autopia | Wired.com.