PARIS—Low ground pressure tires have revolutionized farming, but Michelin has taken the concept one step further, developing an ultra LGP tire that allows a 15,000-pound vehicle to roll through a minefield unscathed.
Michelin claims a 7½-ton mine-clearing vehicle equipped with its new tire exerts less ground pressure per square inch than a human's footfall—roughly half a pound per square inch.
The tire dubbed LX PSI, was designed for use on a landmine clearing vehicle built by defense systems manufacturer MBDA France S.A. for the French military. The 34-inch rim diameter tire, size 710/75R34, weighs 440 pounds and is the result of 10 years of research.
The new tire design makes it possible for the MBDA's Souvim II mine-sweeping vehicle to demine paths of up to 90 miles per day at an average speed of about 12.5 mph.
The tire operates at about 4 to 4.5 psi, allowing the Souvim II to maneuver over flat landmines without being detected and can deform around the tops of conical landmines without activating them.
Michelin said the tire is made by hand by experienced line operators, according to a complex process. The main technical challenge is to affix a 4-inch thick foam band on a casing derived from Michelin's agricultural tires. The thick foam band is covered with a fine rubber film called “skim” to enhance protection and grip.