Say goodbye to curb rash with variable wheel widths.
Hyundai has seemingly developed a wheel that can change its width, in the process preventing the possibility of curbing it when trying to park in tight spaces. Discovered by CarBuzz, a patent filed with the USPTO by the Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation proposes a wheel design that can automatically narrow itself, creating a more bulbous tire that protrudes beyond the outer face and rim of the wheel, meaning contact with a curb is made by the tire instead of the wheel itself.
In large SUVs like the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, with limited visibility, bigger blind spots, and large wheel options, this invention could help mitigate damages to your wheels when trying to park.
The premise behind this differs from Hyundai's previous shape-shifting wheel design substantially. Whereas previously, tire pressures could be adapted by a barrel deformation, this new patent aims to physically narrow the wheel's width.
It does so by splitting the wheel into two main components, an inward-facing barrel/rim combo connected to the wheel hub and an outward-facing barrel/rim/wheel face combo connected to the inner element. The barrel elements of these two components would be slightly offset, allowing them to slide in and out in relation to each other, effectively telescoping in and out.
A hydraulic actuator connecting these two components can then control how narrow or wide the wheel becomes. When the wheel is made narrower than the tire width, the tire would effectively protrude, creating a protective barrier.
Hyundai/Kia claims this is ideal for situations where parallel parking necessitates parking as close to the curb as possible, such as on narrow streets. Using a variety of sensors, including surround-view cameras, proximity sensors, and light sensors, the car would be able to detect the presence of a square curb. When the vehicle reaches a halt and reverse gear is engaged, it would activate the so-called 'wheel protection parking mode.'
The system also makes provision for the automatic activation of such a system when a car uses parking assistance, like Hyundai's Smart Park functionality.
Regardless, when the vehicle is parked, the wheels return to their normal state.