No More Flat Tires?
Anyone who has a bike or car knows how annoying it is to get a flat tire. Now, a U.S. company called The SMART Tire Company is selling an airless tire that it says will make flats a thing of the past. It’s designed for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial travelers.
The tire is based on a technology that was developed by NASA (the U.S. space agency) for use on its Mars rovers, the uncrewed vehicles that have been sent to explore the Red Planet. Rover wheels, which are aluminum cylinders containing springs, have worn down quickly because the Martian surface can be rough and the planet is extremely cold. So NASA created new wheels, covering them with a material called a shape memory alloy, which is strong but flexible. When the material is put under pressure, it collapses but then returns to its original shape.
The SMART Tire Company’s bicycle tire, called the METL tire, also uses this shape memory alloy. Because there’s no air pressure, the tire can’t go flat. The company claims that a METL tire will last for “the life of your vehicle.”
The company says the bike tire is only the beginning. It envisions the technology being used for cars, jets, heavy machinery, and more.
The video below shows what happened when the new tires were put to the test.