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Michelin Vision concept wheel/tire: airless, connected, rechargeable, organic

At Movin’On 2017, Michelin presented its new Vision concept tire. The concept tire—which combines the functions of wheel and tire—is airless, connected, rechargeable, customizable and organic, is both a wheel and a tire. Michelin Group Executive Vice President of Research and Development Terry Gettys said that the VISION concept is achievable as it represents the convergence of innovations already being explored by the Group’s R&D teams.

The Vision tire combines 4 innovations: an organic tire, developed from bio-sourced, biodegradable materials; a rechargeable tire printed in 3D, according to the level of wear and mobility needs; an airless tire enabled by its alveolar interior architecture; and a connected tire.

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  • Organic tire. The materials used, which were both bio-sourced and biodegradable, minimized the tire’s environmental footprint.

  • 3D printed. VISION is the first tire that recharges. With the aid of 3D printers, it is possible to use just the right amount of rubber on the tire and thus extend its life depending on needs, thereby ensuring mobility in all situations. The tread design is optimized and its depth is reduced in order to reduce its thickness and make the tire more efficient in terms of materials. The tread design is adapted, in accordance with the user’s mobility needs, with a triple concern for comfort, safety and sustainability.

  • Airless. Vision relies on an interior architecture capable of supporting the vehicle, ensuring the solidity of the wheel and thus guaranteeing both comfort and safety. Vision can neither explode nor blowout. Its architecture, which is based on an alveolar structure was developed through advanced modeling, based on observing nature (solid in the center, flexible on the outside).

  • Connected. Equipped with sensors, Vision provides real-time information about its condition. Using Michelin’s mobile application, it’s possible to simply make an appointment to change the tire’s destination, depending on the user’s needs. This change in usage (for example, to snowy conditions) is fast and carried out via 3D printing.

The VISION project was launched in autumn 2016 under the leadership of the Michelin Corporate Innovation Board (CIB). The CIB’s road map was to imagine an object that symbolized the mobility of the future, that was packed with converging technologies and offered an ultra-high level of environmental performance, in accordance with the Group’s 4R strategy and Michelin’s values.

Michelin’s 4R strategy, the Group’s application of the circular economy concept, comprises for elements: Reduce; Re-Use; Renew; Recycle.

  • Reduce. Vision’s tread is closely adapted to user needs by applying the minimum amount of rubber needed and by being recharged using 3D printing technology. This solution reduces the amount of energy needed to create a new tread.

  • Re-Use. Vision is made with an organic core that can be reused and recharged. By reusing it, the user preserves the natural resources that are used to create the tire.

  • Renew. Vision integrates a large number of renewable part components, thus limiting the use of petroleum-based products. VISION uses materials derived from wood chips, straw, sugar constituent residue, and orange peels. The natural rubber will come solely from environmentally responsible rubber farms.

  • Recycle. Vision will also incorporate recycled materials from tires or households, such as tire powders, aluminum cans and electronic components.

Nineteen patents protect all aspects of Vision, from the process to the materials.

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