Say Goodbye to Flat Tires with Michelin Airless Tires

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High on the list of everyday frustrations we all face is a flat tire. They nearly always happen at the worst possible moment and they can be especially dangerous if you get a blowout. Michelin just unveiled a new airless tire that may end flat tire woes forever.

The Uptis (Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System) made its debut at the Movin’ On with Michelin mobility conference in Montreal. Through a joint research agreement with General Motors, Michelin hopes to put this prototype into production for use on passenger vehicles by 2024. It’s currently in testing with plans to venture into the real world on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs in Michigan.

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Nearly 200 million tires are scrapped each year due to puncture damage, road hazards, or improper inflation. That’s the same weight as 200 Eiffel Towers. The Uptis has the potential to make us safer and reduce the environmental impact of tires by shrinking that number. Replacing fewer tires also reduces the need for raw materials, further mitigating the environmental impact of tires.

There is also the benefit of not having to deal with the hassle and expense of getting tires replaced as often. No one likes having to miss work and reschedule appointments due to an unexpected flat and the unexpected expense is even worse. Airless tires can also offer a huge benefit to fleets, reducing downtime and repair costs for businesses that rely on vehicles to service customers and make deliveries.

The Uptis is specifically designed for use on passenger vehicles and can easily handle their weight and the speeds we drive at on the highway, but that’s not the limits of its applications. You could one day see airless tires on newer forms of mobility including autonomous and electric cars still in development. Particularly on autonomous shuttles where there‚Äôs no driver to change a tire, the Uptis is an ideal choice.

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Although they look quite different from today’s air-filled tires, Michelin says you likely won’t feel the difference when you drive. They weigh about the same and are designed to provide the smooth ride you experience from the tires on your car right now. The Uptis is an upgrade, not a compromise.

The future of mobility, from how we drive to what we drive, is constantly evolving and new technologies like airless tires are helping form that future today.