By Andrew Williams,
In a new initiative, Goodyear Tyres has announced a research project, which may have long-reaching implications for tyre manufacturing as we know it. The company is working with NASA?s Glenn Research Centre to evolve its run-on-flat technology, with the aim of producing tyres for future missions to the Moon and Mars.
For the past year Goodyear has been studying the Apollo lunar rover wheel in order to build up a complete understanding of the demands that harsh, extraterrestrial conditions put on both pneumatic and non-pneumatic tyres.
Goodyear and General Motors were responsible for developing the wire mesh moon tyres for the first lunar landings. Those original tyres, woven out of piano wire, were able to carry a load of about 60lbs for about 75 miles. Their successors will need to carry much heavier loads over far greater distances. Any tyre that can work reliably in such a hostile environment would certainly have numerous commercial uses closer to home.
While the results of this initiative remain in the distant future, these first tentative steps may soon represent a giant leap in terms of tyre technology.