Wheels are straight lines bent towards motion. Spinning on axles, they transport cars long, linear distances, arcing gently for lane changes or at sharp angles or hard turns, yet always moving forward in a line. It is a form so perfected that “reinventing the wheel” is synonymous with “unnecessary work”. Last week, at the Geneva International Motor Show, tiremaker Goodyear ignored conventional wisdom and showed off their concept wheel reinvention: spheres.
The wheels are dubbed “Eagle-360”. According to the concept video, the wheels are held in place by magnetic levitation. Sponge-like grooves in the tries dampen when wet to resist hydroplaning. The spherical wheels shake off excess water like a dog. When dry, the sponge hardens and the wheels are again made for speed. Sensors in the tires read road conditions and communicate them to other cars. The spherical wheels will scan themselves for wear and tear and adjust alignments as needed, so that it’s not wearing down the same strip of wheel all the time.
Each set of 3D-printed wheels would be customized to the individual user, based on commute distance, likely weather conditions, and how often they go offroading. Wait, “user,” not driver? Yes. These are made for autonomous, self-driving cars. One side-effect of these wheels, Goodyear hopes, is greater parking efficiency, so existing parking lots can accommodate more cars without taking up any more space.