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Full Version: Michelin's New "Tweel"
America's Debate > Archive > Assorted Issues Archive > [A] Science and Technology
How cool is this? Michelin has developed the “Tweel”, a combination tire and wheel that is non-pneumatic (no more flats or blowouts!), consisting of a hub, polyurethane spokes, a "shear band" surrounding the spokes, and a rubber tread band. They showed a military vehicle rolling over a (small) roadside bomb, and the Tweels kept rolling the vehicle along.
Preliminary tests show that no-air tires on slow-moving vehicles can run over explosives that break some of the spokes and even tear off some of the tread, but the vehicle "keeps rolling. It looks ragged, but it continues to move," Gettys said.

The Tweel also directs the blast energy of land mines and other explosives outward rather than up through traditional tires and into the vehicle. (I am not posting the link to this source because of the offensive name of the site)

Articles and pictures:

This is the first real innovation in tires since the penumatic tire was developed in 1890. It is still as heavy as a traditional tire, but the Tweel is still in development. I don’t know if the Tweel will be more environmentally friendly than traditional tires, but with a substantially smaller amount of rubber being used and a longer life, it is quite possible it can have a positive environmental impact, as well.

Will this innovation eventually render the traditional air-inflated tire obsolete?
Victoria Silverwolf
I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing at all about automobiles, but this does look like a major innovation. The article seems to suggest that the Tweel will be very useful in devices meant to enhance the mobility of the handicapped, if nothing else. The military applications look very practical as well.

I suppose that as far as the average car goes, the big questions will be cost and convenience. How much will a Tweel cost? How often will you have to replace it (if ever?) Will it be easy for a driver to change one, if necessary?

Overall, it seems likely that this may replace the ordinary tire at some time in the future. (On the other hand, we still have the internal combustion engine, with all its flaws, so I may be wrong.)

[footnote from a science fiction geek: Tweel was the name of the Martian in Stanley G. Weinbaum's classic story "A Martian Odyssey" (1934.)]
Devils Advocate
Will this innovation eventually render the traditional air-inflated tire obsolete?

I think this invention could put the traditional tire to rest, or at least give it some problems. As I recall, they were still having problems with the Tweel (which I think is a dumb name but oh well) at high speeds. Apparently it makes a lot of noise when you hit 50+ mph.

I for one think it's a cool concept and great idea but I would have some questions. How long is it supposed to last? How would they be disposed of, would we have tweel piles? If they last a long time, how expensive would they be? Because I'm assuming Michelin is still going to want to keep making the same amount of money that it makes selling regular tires. Also, since they seem quite durable (they showed one still working after going over a land mine, which as we all know is a major concern for the daily commute) I would assume the price tag would be high. And like a regular tire, could you get it repaired or would you have to buy a new tweel?
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