I have seen it at least one year ago. It makes you wonder why it is not on the market yet. Personally, I see many problems/technical difficulties to oversome.
- open side wall: this creates disruption to air flow, therefore, drag. Of course, it should be easy to cover it up.
- flat spotting: Today's wide tires already have bad flat spotting problem if you park your vehicles for many hours. Design like the Tweel will have even worse flat spotting problem, I envision.
- high-speed use: I don't see how this can be used in high-speed. Stability and overcoming irregularity of road surface (sudden impact of a 2" deep pothole, for instance). Pneumatic tires have its huge advantage. That is why we still can't get rid of them.
- longivity: How long does such a tire last? A tire that purely relies on rubber joints doesn't seem to last very long to me.
It is a cool design. I wish it works. The fact that it is not on the market yet tells you that there are technical problems facing the engineers. Keep up the good works, guys.
No, this is a real item. Last I heard, it wasn't for sale yet, just in development. (I first heard about it in Popular Science a few years ago.)
While it's not great for 'high speed', it's adequate for up to 80 mph, which covers legal freeway speeds.
The big problem, though, is that it's a rough ride. (According to Pop Sci, at least.) Not quite as bad as a solid rubber tire would be, but rougher than even the most highly inflated pneumatic tire.
(I also find it funny that in Michelin's 'about' photo, it shows a 'deformable wheel' that appears to be made out of composites or something, yet in the real photos of it on a car, it appears to have a conventional metal wheel.)
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