My main concern with airless tires has always been about debris in between the supporting spokes. Ice, mud, or rocks in between there could cause damage, or at the very least, throw them out of balance. Also, tire shops may have to learn new methods for changing them, unless you have to swap out the entire assembly, which will up the costs.
If they combine the tire and rim when it wears out you have to replace both. The fact that it weighs more means it takes more material to build the rubber structure than it does to use just air for it. I'm curious how favorably they wear compared to a standard tire but it sounds like a better invention for someone selling them than for people buying them.
Hopefully, the actual production version will have its sides covered w/ cloth etc!
But, IMHO a much better solution to create airless tires, would be to invent a very light & elastic & durable material (similar to aerogel/hydrogel), that can be filled into all existing tires!
As for wheel/tire assembly - if these work like the commercial/ag versions then the rubber "tire" will just press on and off the wheel. Also speculation at one point about just the tread section being pressed on.
Debris in the open section has the same hazard at snow/mud/debris getting stuck in a thin spoke wheel. Same problem of out of balance and/or damage. On that same subject any covers, fabric or other wise, will be subject to wear and damage and can then actually make problem worse by holding debris in the void that would other wise have fallen out.
I like the disposal aspect. If just the tread gets replaced then quick chop and you have flat strips to handle. I wonder if the same applies if the whole "tire" is pressed off the wheel?
@JasonBurr I think the risk of debris inside these tires would be much higher than in the rim itself. For starers even small amounts of mud would be enough to clear the tread and ooze into the gap where much deeper mud would be needed to reach the rim/wheel. There is a greater width (the tire width) of the pocket in the tire vs the fairly narrow spoke that would not hold debris. If you filled one of these with mud and rocks and then drove on it it would create wear on the baffles and change tire balance. Generally tires are put on and off the rim while deflated and then inflated later where these could be a challenge to get on an off the rim. If they can easily be taken on or off by a person then they could potentially come off while driving or under normal operation which is likely why they are targeting selling them already attached to the rim as a single unit. It still seems like air is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to provide structure to the tire. We already have methods to deal with flats. You could even put baffles like this in air filled tires as a backup method which would address the issue of protecting the sides from entering debris.
I wonder if the open structure is required to dissipate the heat generated in the ribs by constant flexing.
I'm sure they will be great for winter, when they fill with snow & ice, and going 20 mph feels like an earthquake.
I drive a very small car that does not have room for a spare tire. It just has space for an air compressor and sealant. There is only so much they can do for a flat. I think an airless tire will give peace of mind for small cars and cars that only have a spare as an option.
It seems they are not the only one that has an airless tire. I think competition will give the companies an incentive to make the better and less costly.
Punctures these day, on quality tires, are quite rare. So to most people, its a no-problem problem. The tyre shown has been shown in variations since the late 70's - early 80's. It uses a lot more material than a normal tyre, so in terms of weight and rescources its a step back. Hitting a hard, sharp edge, like something granite, the tyre can still be broken and need replacement.
50 pounds seems really heavy for a small car tire and wheel. I've mounted thousands of tires. A 50 pound combo is more like a truck/suv. Paul 314, yes exactly. A pneumatic tire uses the volume of air to help spread the temp through the whole tire carcass and dissipate. This needs direct external airflow to those load bearing ribs or they would overheat and start failing quick. When Michelin first dropped this idea so long ago, the federal DOT at the time pretty much said they would never approve a non pneumatic tire for highway use. At least not this one. Someone here was very close to the crux, the idea is the cost savings if they didn't need to equip you with ANY redundancy, tire-wise. Long, long ago GM came up with a spare that was basically a nylon disc with ribs similar to this, with a tread-patterned BELT around its outer edge. Chintzy, cheap, light and very small and thin, and would never be3 flat when you need it. The Fed said you guys must be high. You can't be serious...no way.