Goodyear has released a video of a spherical omni-directional wheel and tire concept called the Eagle 360.
The tire, developed for the future autonomous driving scenario and held in place using magnetic levitation technology, features many benefits.
It features threads that are 3D printed and can be customized to suit requirements based on the climate and terrain most often travelled. Pioneering materials ensure stiffness in dry conditions but are malleable in the rain to enhance traction.
The tire can rotate in any direction to distribute wear and passing can be achieved without the vehicle changing its course of travel. Its spherical nature also enables decreased turning radiuses and facilitates maneuverability in tight spaces.
With numerous annotations the video above speaks for itself, but there are a few notable call-outs to address.
One thing I noticed was the complete lack of body roll when the improvised car is on the slalom course. Imagine the cornering possibilities this product could provide! No more spilling your coffee or holding on to the grab rail.
The next is the rolling resistance a tire like this could potentially have. Rolling resistance is an efficiency killer, hence why all electric cars have slim wheels and a very small contact patch. What kind of efficiency performance could a large ball have?
And finally, the third point is another potential drawback. Wheels are often considered the automotive equivalent to fine jewelry and remain one of the key elements of a vehicle’s overall design. With a big rubber ball in place of an eye-catching design, wheel designs are rendered completely obsolete.
While the above points are something to consider, the overall proposal remains interesting nonetheless. We’d be very interested to see just how close this concept is to becoming production reality.