NEW YORK—Michelin's "Vision" airless hybrid wheel/tire design was named one of Time magazine's "25 Best Inventions of 2017," despite its being a concept that's perhaps a decade or more away from reality.
The Vision concept, introduced earlier this year at Michelin's Movin'On summit for sustainable mobility in Montreal, combines four technologies—airless, organic, rechargeable and connected—Michelin said.
In its description of the Vision, Time said: "In the future, our cars will be smart, and our tires will be smarter. Or so suggests Michelin. Its Vision concept—unveiled this year to demonstrate the potential of tire technology—certainly makes a compelling case."
Terry Gettys, global head of research and development for Michelin, said, "The ideas presented in the Vision concept have taken hold among vehicle designers, demonstrating a feasible vision of how the tire can provide essential contributions to sustainable mobility in the future."
According to Michelin, the Vision's outer tread is printed in 3D and is considered "rechargeable" according to its level of wear and mobility. The use of 3D printers makes it possible to tailor the tread to the intended use, thus extending its life depending on needs and ensuring mobility in all situations.
The wheel component does away with the need for air, relying on an "alveolar" interior architecture capable of supporting the vehicle while guaranteeing comfort and safety. The company thus far has not disclosed what materials are used in the wheel, other than to say they're organic, biosourced, renewable and recyclable.
"We believe the Vision concept is as beautiful as the natural world that inspires it, combining multiple technologies that together project the course for Michelin's innovation in the years ahead," Gettys said.
Michelin's non-pneumatic Tweel tire/wheel hybrid also made Time's "Best Inventions" list in 2005.