Morphing tire concept adapts to suit driving conditions

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Kuhmo's Maxplo is designed to adapt to the road conditions, for ideal grip all-year round

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As the point of contact between a vehicle and the road, tires are one of the most important parts of a car. Unfortunately, there's no one size fits all, or rather, one tire fits all surfaces or weather conditions, tire and swapping them over when encountering changing conditions isn't exactly feasible. Kumho has come up with a concept tire that would avoid this problem by changing its tread to suit the conditions.

Taking out a Platinum award in the Futuristic class on the Italian A’ Design Awards, Kumho's Maxplo tire takes the airless tire concept and takes things a few futuristic steps further. Rather than a fixed tread, it is designed to switch between a number of different surface configurations to deal with everything from dry to snow-covered roads.

To pump water away from the contact patch between vehicle and road in wet conditions to prevent hydroplaning, the surface and circumference of the tire features specially-designed three-dimensional grooves. The placement of the grooves isn't just random or for show, with the design team using computer simulations to check the pattern's performance.

If heading off road, the large intersectional tread blocks that make up the surface of the tire move apart, broadening the tire's footprint to increase traction. For snow and ice, the tire has one more trick up its sleeve in the form of spikes that remain hidden beneath the tread blocks in other conditions.

To finish their futuristic concept off, the designers added a hydrogen fuel-powered electric hub motor. The tires would measure 700 x 700 x 250 mm (27.5 x 27.5 x 9.8 in) and weigh 12 kg (26.4 lb).

"While Maxplo may not be hitting our roads in the near future, many of its concepts will flow into tire design over the next few years, and the overall concept will continue to be refined with a view to one-day offering tires such as this to consumers," says David Basha, Kumho Tyre Australia manager of marketing and training.

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