As we look into the future, many people think cars will use electric and other means of propulsion besides gas, and of course there are people who think we will have cars that drive by themselves. But all of those ideas are based on vehicles with the same kinds of tires. This week, as part of the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show, Goodyear introduced a concept for the future that changes the design, and the features, of the car tire completely.

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The Goodyear Eagle 360 Urban tire concept ditches the normal hoop design for a spherical shape. The company actually came up with this same design in 2016, stating that it would allow the car of the future to move in any direction, even sideways. The new Eagle 360 Urban tire concept combines the spherical design with a “bionic skin and morphing tread” material. Combined with a built-in sensor network, it will be able to change its trend depending on the road and weather conditions.

The tire’s morphing trend is made of a super-elastic polymer, according to Goodyear, which allows it to expand and contract. The polymer would have actuator elements placed under the surface, which can change shape with an electrical input. The car’s AI will get information on the tire’s current surface and weather conditions and change its shape to adapt to those conditions. That includes creating  ‘dimples’ when the car drives into rain or wet conditions.

If such a tire gets punctured, the AI can then rotate it so that other parts of the tread are contacting the surface. Meanwhile, the damaged part of the tire will use its “bionic skin” to heal the puncture, via a sealant material that will flow to the hole and close it up.

Of course, such a concept is far in the future from actually being made, and even if that happens, the entire car would have to be redesigned to accommodate such a spherical shape. That doesn’t seem likely to happen for a long, long time, but it’s very possible that some of the ideas behind this Goodyear Eagle 360 Urban concept will be made available in real tires at some point.

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