Remember the last scene in the original Back to the Future when Doc Brown’s DeLorean lifts off and flies into the future? Of course you remember – it’s only one of the coolest automotive movie moments of all-time. Goodyear doesn’t have jet-powered tyres yet, but the company is trying to make our dreams come true with a concept tyre that doubles as a propeller for flying cars. It’s about time.
The tyre is called Aero, and it’s among the many debuts happening now at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. In short, it’s a bimodal system where the tyre acts as a normal tyre when a vehicle is on the ground. It doesn’t need air – the structure inside the thin tyre is non-pneumatic and able to absorb bumps as a typical modern-day tyre does. It’s a very narrow design so it’s not something you’d install on, say, a Porsche 911. That is, unless you wanted to carve canyons from the top instead of the bottom.
Gallery: Goodyear Aero Tiltrotor Tyre Concept
In its second mode, the tyre tilts 90 degrees and spins parallel to the ground. The spokes which support the tyre on the ground are also shaped like propellers, providing lift. With a tiltrotor tyre at each corner, the car basically becomes a quadcopter. Suddenly that Back to the Future reference seems pretty darned close to reality, right?
The tyre is certainly a cool idea, but getting it to work is a completely different challenge. Goodyear proposes such a tyre would utilise magnetic propulsion, both on the ground and in the air. Such a system would certainly be friction-free, but that kind of tech is generally still the realm of science fiction. The tyre would also utilise artificial intelligence to analyse various conditions and data points and communicate that information to the car, making automatic adjustments to performance in the process. We have similar tech today, but such advanced programming is still in the beginning stages.
Regardless, it’s nice to know someone is thinking outside the box on this whole flying car situation.