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Goodyear Develops An Airless Tire For Autonomous Robots

The world around us is changing and traditional roles of various companies have to be adapted to the new reality we live in. No longer than 5 years ago, nobody would’ve thought that we could see autonomous robots on the streets, doing all sorts of jobs, including delivering our food. And yet, that’s no longer a novelty today and companies like Goodyear are seeing opportunities everywhere.

That’s probably one of the reasons why they decided to create the Starship Technologies company that operates a network of over 1,000 last mile autonomous robots that can carry and deliver packages, groceries, food and other stuff to their customers directly. This fleet of robots has certain needs though, some that you may not expect. They can encounter all sorts of challenges on their routes and, since they are getting around on wheels, they might actually get a flat tire from time to time

Therefore, Goodyear produced a specifically engineered airless tire to improve tire life and reduce maintenance activities for Starship’s delivery fleet in response to Starship’s request for information on tire health and maintenance. At Bowling Green State University, Goodyear and Starship have begun an in-field testing phase to assess vehicle and tire interdependence. Early data from on-vehicle tire testing has revealed promising results in terms of treadwear, braking, and vibration dampening.

“We are excited to extend our unique airless tire architectures into new forms of mobility,” said Michael Rachita, Goodyear’s senior program manager, non-pneumatic tires. “The micro delivery space presents a different set of needs as it relates to the tire, and our NPT technology is ideal to meet those needs to help enable a maintenance-free and long-lasting experience.”

“Our delivery robots make thousands of deliveries every day in all types of weather conditions and terrain,” said Siim Viilup, mechanical engineering manager, Starship Technologies. “To make sure we can keep up with the growing demand for our services, we need tires that are reliable and keep our robots on the move around the clock and around the globe. It’s great to see these new tires offering reliability as well as cost savings as we scale our business.”

While, for now, it may seem like a very specific use case, airless tires and the research carried out with the help of Starship Technologies, might prove very useful for other situations later down the line. Airless tires for conventional cars are seen as a necessary evolutionary step right now, especially as we move into the electric era.

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