Last week, NASA reinvented the wheel. According to an article in designboom, researchers at NASA's Glenn Research center have created the Superelastic Tire with Mars on the mind, but it turns out that they could even replace traditional air-filled tires here on earth.
In 2009, the space agency collaborated with Goodyear to create the Spring Tire, which had 800 load-bearing springs and was capable of carrying heavy vehicles. It was built for the Apollo Lunar Rover to stand up to wild temperature swings and be impervious to puncture.
The new Superelastic Tire builds off of the previous work, using shape memory alloys, mostly nickel titanium, that can stand up to incredible strain and deformation, likely while on a mission on Mars. In the footage, you can see the tires easily rolling over simulated rocky surfaces, and I imagine that it already has Jeep owners around the world salivating.
The tires are made from alloys base on stoichiometric nickel titanium that doesn't deform like conventional materials, and as you can see, they don't have an inner frame. According to the researchers, the material can undergo an atomic rearrangement to accommodate deformation, which allows the tire to deform nearly 30 times the amount of conventional materials without permanent deformation. For example, the tire can deform down to the axle and still return to its natural shape.
The patent-pending technology could increase travel speeds in off-road applications, particularly ATVs, and is suitable for military, construction, agricultural and aircraft vehicles.
This is IEN Now with David Mantey.