Home / Car Stuff / Michelin Uptis – The Future of the Wheel?

 

With the new Michelin Uptis, the future of airless wheel technology may just be at hand right now.

Michelin Uptis
Michelin Uptis

Michelin and General Motors have tied up to bring a new generation of airless wheel technology for passenger vehicles to future public transportation. The Michelin Uptis (short for Unique Puncture-proof Tire System) Prototype — was shown at the Movin’On Summit for sustainable mobility held in Montreal, Canada.

Michelin and GM also signed a joint research agreement under which the companies will work further on the Uptis prototype in order to introduce it on passenger vehicles by 2024.

Basically, Michelin Uptis is the wheel re-invented, similar to the Tweel the company had been working on for years. It features an innovative approach towards architecture and usage of composite materials. The tyres are designed in such a way that it eliminates the need for air. The current Uptis prototype looks structurally like a tyre but will have high-strength composite spokes in between the rim section and the tractive surface but with no sidewalls. The outer layer of the Uptis is made up of a mix of rubber and synthetic compounds with same sort of tread pattern as that found on conventional tyres. This enables the Uptis to bear the vehicle’s weight at road-going speeds without ever getting deflated. It has a huge advantage over traditional pneumatic tyres in terms of efficiency and eco-friendliness: approximately 200 million tyres worldwide are scrapped prematurely every year as a result of punctures, damage from road hazards or improper air pressure that causes uneven wear.

Michelin have been working on their ‘Tweel’ for several years and, with the Uptis, it looks like they are now ready for the passenger-vehicle mass market.

“The Uptis Prototype demonstrates Michelin’s capacity for innovation — in both the mastery of these high-tech materials, and also the development approach in close collaboration with GM, which validates our Vision concept as a roadmap for innovation,” said Eric Vinesse, executive vice president, research and development, Group Michelin, who revealed Uptis at the Movin’On Summit. “Uptis represents progress toward Michelin’s vision for tomorrow’s mobility, and also embodies our commitment to a better, sustainable mobility for all.”

At present, Michelin and GM are testing the Uptis Prototype on vehicles such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Later this year, the two companies will initiate real-world testing of Uptis on a test fleet of Bolt EVs in Michigan.

 

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