Automotive

Morphing tire concept adapts to suit driving conditions

Morphing tire concept adapts t...
Kuhmo's Maxplo is designed to adapt to the road conditions, for ideal grip all-year round
Kuhmo's Maxplo is designed to adapt to the road conditions, for ideal grip all-year round
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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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Kuhmo's Maxplo is designed to adapt to the road conditions, for ideal grip all-year round
The Maxplo won a platinum award at the A'Design awards
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The Maxplo won a platinum award at the A'Design awards
In the wet, a carefully designed tread pattern is designed to dispel water for ideal grip
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In the wet, a carefully designed tread pattern is designed to dispel water for ideal grip
The concept makes its tread wider to improve grip on in snowy or icy conditions
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The concept makes its tread wider to improve grip on in snowy or icy conditions

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.

Source:Kumho, A’ Design Awards

7 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is way cool.
Kevin Ritchey
Yes, if nothing else, it at least appears to be a cool idea. Whether it ever becomes practical is another story. Let's wait and see what comes from this.
Bruce H. Anderson
My guess is that one trip through anything that resembles mud will lock this puppy up.
Scott in California
I like that concept car. I'd like to meet the 90cm-tall licensed driver who can fit in it.
MadMaxx
If they ever come to fruition they will likely be expensive. To reduce lifetime cost design the contact rubber to be replaceable instead of disposing of the whole tire.!
Robert Walther
Great idea. I have to believe that the pictured, internal wheel support is asymmetrical as a design flair. Variable support like the 'spoke' shown would have to be a serious stress problem.
the.other.will
Whether or not the Maxplo works out, other manufacturers will develop variations of the core idea of a multiple surface, airless tire. 1 will eventually work. Congrats to Kumho for leading the way.