Words: Calvin Chan
Published: June 16, 2017
MONTREAL, Quebec - When people think of the future of automobiles, flying cars and commercial space shuttles are usually what comes to mind. But Michelin has a different vision, one that reimagines the essence of the automobile starting at the wheel.
At the Movin’On Conference in Montreal, Michelin debuted their concept tire, aptly named VISION. It’s something you have to see to believe: a biodegradable, rechargeable, 3D-printed tire with a network of synapses that allow it to be airless and customizable with any sort of terrain in mind. Some have even called it a “tweel”, as it combines the tire and wheel together into one cohesive network of material. The implications for these innovative features are endless.
Michelin imagines a future where you can pull up to a designated station right before a mountain pass or off-road path and alter the thickness and tread of the tire via 3-D printing. This allows for optimal traction in the desired situation. Once the terrain has passed, simply recharge and reload the setting from before.
The fact that it’s airless too means that you will never get a flat tire either. Furthermore, being made from recyclable materials such as orange peels, bamboo, wood chips, and straw, and being biodegradable as well means there’s much less waste in production and removal.
Michelin has also equipped their VISION tire with sensors that can provide real-time information about the tire’s condition, meaning users can view tread depth and thickness to logistically ensure the tire is up to snuff.
If Michelin showed this to the press ten years ago, chances are it would have gone in one ear and out the other, categorized as balderdash or pure science fiction. These days though, the future is bright. It is still a concept tire after all with much research to be done, but Michelin proves that its vision of a distant horizon may actually be closer than we think.