The wheel gets reinvented !



Engineers at Michelin's US technology centre envision a future in which vehicles ride on what they call the Tweel, a combined tyre and wheel that can never go flat because it contains no air. :tongue:

The first commercial use of the integrated tyre and wheel assembly will be on the stair-climbing iBOT wheelchair. The Tweel and another airless tyre were on display at this week's Detroit motor show.

Michelin has high expectations for the Tweel project. The concept of a single-piece tyre and wheel assembly is one the company expects to become widespread on passenger cars and, eventually, used on construction equipment and aircraft.

The Tweel offers a number of benefits beyond the attraction of being impervious to nails. The tread will last two to three times as long as radial tyres, Michelin says, and when it does wear thin it can be retreaded. For manufacturers, the Tweel reduces the number of parts, eliminating most of the 23 components of a new tyre as well as the costly air-pressure monitors that will soon be required on new vehicles in the US.

In recent years, manufacturers have devoted an increasing amount of attention to tyres that let motorists continue driving after a puncture, at a reduced speed. Several run-flat designs are available, freeing car makers to eliminate the weight and cost of spare tyres. Michelin, which markets run-flat tyres under the Pax name, took a different approach in developing the Tweel. Its goal: a replacement for traditional tyres designed to function without air.
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