Goodyear showcases innovative ‘Space Tyre’ at Geneva Motor Show
Geneva, Switzerland, March 2, 2010 – Goodyear and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have developed an airless tyre to transport large, long-range vehicles across the surface of the moon. The innovative ‘Space Tyre’ will be exhibited publically in Europe for the first time at this year’s International Geneva Motor Show. The tyre will be on display next to the entrance of the media centre during press days and on Goodyear’s booth (hall 2, stand nr. 2057) during public show days.
Goodyear’s ‘Space Tyre’ builds on technology pioneered by Goodyear in the 1960s for the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle’s (LRV) wire mesh moon tyre. During the past year, Goodyear has been using computer modeling tools to analyze the Apollo lunar rover tyre, along with prototype pneumatic tyres and non-pneumatic concepts, in order to build a baseline understanding of the wheel’s mechanics and the challenges of the lunar environment.
“The development of the original Apollo lunar mission tyres and the new ‘Space Tyre’ were driven by the fact that traditional rubber, pneumatic (air-filled) tyres used on earth have little utility on the moon. This is because unfiltered solar radiation degrades rubber, and pneumatic tyres pose an unacceptable risk of deflation,”explains Marc Junio, General Director, Goodyear Innovation Centre Luxembourg.
The ‘Space Tyre’ features 800 load bearing springs and is designed to carry much heavier vehicles over much greater distances than the wire mesh tyre previously used on the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV).“The new tyre is extremely durable and energy efficient,”notes Junio.“The spring design contours to the surface on which it’s driven to provide traction. But all of the energy used to deform the tyre is returned when the springs rebound. This doesn’t generate heat the way a normal tyre does.”
According to Vivake Asnani, NASA’s principal investigator at the Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, the ‘Space Tyre’ does not have a “single point failure mode”.“What that means,”he said,“is that a hard impact that might cause a pneumatic tyre to puncture and deflate would only damage one of the 800 load bearing springs. Along with this characteristic, the tyre has a combination of overall stiffness yet flexibility that allows off-road vehicles to travel fast over rough terrain with relatively little motion being transferred to the vehicle. With the combined requirements of increased load, range and life, we needed to make a fundamental change to the original moon tyre. What the Goodyear-NASA team developed is an innovative, yet simple network of interwoven springs that does the job. The tyre design seems almost obvious in retrospect, as most good inventions do.”