Michelin held it first Movin’On conference this week in Montreal. The purpose of the event was to explain and show what Michelin is doing to create “sustainable mobility” in an effort to “conserve energy and raw materials.” During the event, the company unveiled its concept tire dubbed “Vision.”
The Vision concept tire is a wheel/tire combination that is made from organic material. Using biodegradable materials such as wood chips, straw, and orange peels, the Michelin R&D team can make synthetic butadiene, a principle component of rubber. The material can then be used to create a tire customized to the individual user’s needs using 3D printing technology.
The tire has an alveolar interior architecture similar to a sponge. It is firm in the center but flexible on the outside. This design makes it airless. It will never go flat, and since it is all one piece, it will never suffer a blowout.
The tread on the Vision is rechargeable. Michelin says that 3D printing stations can replace tread using a minimal amount of rubber. Tread patterns can also be easily changed to fit driving conditions without ever having to remove the tire from the vehicle.
As if a safe, environmentally friendly, recyclable tire were not enough, Michelin plans to add the Vision to the ever growing list of IoT devices. Because of its semisolid design, sensors can be embedded in the tire that can connect with Michelin’s mobile app. The sensors can feed the app information about its condition. The app can then provide maintenance suggestions or tread pattern advice based on driving conditions or destination.
Michelin did not reveal when or if the Vision tire would go into mass production. The prototype has been tested, but no word on commercial viability.