Automotive

Students design the tire of the future

Samir Sadikov's 1st Prize-winning "Dakar" concept
Samir Sadikov's 1st Prize-winning "Dakar" concept
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Samir Sadikov's 1st Prize-winning "Dakar" concept
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Samir Sadikov's 1st Prize-winning "Dakar" concept
This concept is intended for use in Dakar-style endurance races, in which vehicles are required to travel both on- and off-road
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This concept is intended for use in Dakar-style endurance races, in which vehicles are required to travel both on- and off-road
Design sketches of the Dakar concept
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Design sketches of the Dakar concept
Andreas Hartl's 2nd Prize-winning "Vent Tyre" concept
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Andreas Hartl's 2nd Prize-winning "Vent Tyre" concept
In order to minimize the chances of aquaplaning on wet roads, this concept incorporates a tread that has both solid rubber sections for traction, and open "vented" areas that are spanned by a series of horizontal rubber blades
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In order to minimize the chances of aquaplaning on wet roads, this concept incorporates a tread that has both solid rubber sections for traction, and open "vented" areas that are spanned by a series of horizontal rubber blades
Design sketches of the Vent Tyre concept
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Design sketches of the Vent Tyre concept
Lucia Lee's 3rd Prize-winning "Konzept Winter" concept
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Lucia Lee's 3rd Prize-winning "Konzept Winter" concept
Not wildly unlike the Dakar concept, this one also involves a tire/wheel made up of individual sections that sit flush with one another for regular use, and then spread apart for extra traction when required
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Not wildly unlike the Dakar concept, this one also involves a tire/wheel made up of individual sections that sit flush with one another for regular use, and then spread apart for extra traction when required
Design sketches of the Konzept Winter concept
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Design sketches of the Konzept Winter concept

Although we've seen a lot of interesting ideas regarding what may be powering or guiding the cars of the future, it seems that those vehicles' tires don't fire the imagination in quite the same way. Korean tire manufacturer Hankook is trying to change that, however, with its Hankook Tyre Design Challenge. Here's a look at the student-submitted concepts that took the top prizes in this year's contest.

Held every two years, the competition calls upon students from a given international university to submit concepts for tires that could find use on futuristic (yet feasible) vehicles. Those concepts must address factors such as reducing the amount of raw materials required for their production, recyclability, rolling efficiency, and "adherence to certain performance targets."

This year's Challenge saw Hankook partnering with the University of Design, Engineering and Business in Pforzheim, Germany. Students from the university's Master of Arts course for Transportation Design created their concepts throughout one semester. The winning entries were recently announced at the Essen Motor Show.

1st Prize – "Dakar" by Samir Sadikov

This concept is intended for use in Dakar-style endurance races, in which vehicles are required to travel both on- and off-road
This concept is intended for use in Dakar-style endurance races, in which vehicles are required to travel both on- and off-road

This concept is intended for use in Dakar-style endurance races, in which vehicles are required to travel both on- and off-road. Instead of incorporating a tread consisting of one continuous piece of rubber, the tire is made up of individual interlocking hexagonal blocks, each one holding its own air.

When driving on-road, the blocks all sit snugly up against one another, creating a smooth tread with low rolling resistance. Once the vehicle goes off-road, however, they spread apart – exactly how they do so isn't stated, although it obviously involves a purpose-built wheel. This creates a knobbier tread, with more rolling resistance but also better traction.

As an added bonus, if any of the blocks should get punctured, it can be replaced on the spot without having to replace the entire tire.

Hankook Reifen der Zukunft - Konzept 01: Samir Sadikov

2nd Prize – "Vent Tyre" by Andreas Hartl

Andreas Hartl's 2nd Prize-winning "Vent Tyre" concept
Andreas Hartl's 2nd Prize-winning "Vent Tyre" concept

In order to minimize the chances of hydroplaning on wet roads, this concept incorporates a tread that has both solid rubber sections for traction, and open "vented" areas that are spanned by a series of horizontal rubber blades. The basic idea is that as the wheel turns, those blades allow it to act like a turbine, drawing water into channels inside of the tire and then expelling it out the sides.

Hankook Reifen der Zukunft - Konzept 02: Andreas Hartl

3rd Prize – "Konzept Winter" by Lucia Lee

Not wildly unlike the Dakar concept, this one also involves a tire/wheel made up of individual sections that sit flush with one another for regular use, and then spread apart for extra traction when required. In this case, that traction is intended specifically to allow the vehicle to make its way through snow. As the 14 hinged polyurethane sections of the tire spread apart, the circumference of the wheel also increases. This lifts the vehicle up, thus giving it more ground clearance and lessening the chances of it getting bogged down in the white stuff – presumably the car would be built with roomy wheel wells, that could accommodate the tires in their larger state.

Lucia Lee's 3rd Prize-winning "Konzept Winter" concept
Lucia Lee's 3rd Prize-winning "Konzept Winter" concept

Hankook has posted the other nine entries on the competition website, which is linked below. They include concepts for tires that laser-project 3D images ahead of the car, allow users to swap in different tread elements in a Lego block-like fashion, and that produce a graphic representation of the road surface within the car's cabin.

Source: Hankook Tyre Design Challenge 2014

9 comments
christopher
Some kind of asymmetrical pressure idea might be nice to counter the uneven wear experience from repeated cornering (eg: the outside of your front tyre on lots of roundabouts)
iperov
give us real finit-element fluid mud simulations
Grunt
The concept of a tyre that grows in diameter is interesting but results in significant and undesirable changes to the final drive ratio which might be an issue in off-road situations unless some sort of infinitely variable transmission is incorporated too.... Considering the wheel, in various forms, has been with us since Jeremy Clarkson was in nappies, it is probably high time it was rendered unnecessary by some sort of gyroscope powered hover vehicle. Are there any bright sparks working on that, one wonders?
MarylandUSA
I'm intrigued by Concept 3, the one with the hinged polyurethane sections. Back in 1980, I replaced my bicycle's lightweight pneumatic tires with nonpneumatic tires made of yellow ribbed polyurethane. Weighing about 2 pounds each, the poly tires killed acceleration. But I found it liberating to ride without fear of flats. Once, some union workers were on strike and were picketing the factory where i worked. To punish "scabs," they had strewn the road with shards of glass. When I biked over the glass without slowing down, you should have seen the looks on their faces.
Michael Martell
In reviewing the design of the "Dakar" element, did the reviewer manage to miss the internal "tube" type feature, which would be inflated as needed, to provide the greater circumference of the overall device and separate the pads that make up the outer surface of the tread? It seems a simple enough design, and less of a change in wheel diameter, which would place less stress on the final drive than the third design, as noted by one of the earlier comments. I think this design would be a strong contender for the on-off road situations, or for the winter driving conditions, where only a small increase in the inner "tube" would provide the separation necessary to improve performance in snow conditions. Coupled with a vehicle based pressure system, it might provide a dynamic or at least easily adjustable range of terrain configurations for an upper tier SUV or light truck.
Robert Campbell
The designer of #3 has never actually driven in snow, or they would know how little actual control that this design would have on snow. The sections have no lateral control sections, resulting in the vehicle sliding sideways almost from the start. And in to a ditch on the first turn. Combining a tread pattern closer to #1 with this concept might make a workable design.
Oun Kwon
I like to have a tire with studs normally hidden, but pops out to give traction in slippery condition (of course retractable). Unlike tire chain one has to put on the tires when a car needs for traction when the weather turns nasty.
Roderick Bertrand
There are big differences between designing and engineering. But I think some of these ideas could actually work when pushed to the engineers.
Sheldon Cooper
"high time it was rendered unnecessary by some sort of gyroscope powered hover vehicle". How exactly does a gyroscope provide lift?