SpaceBuzz: Goodyear’s Slinky-esque Spring Tires


A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! Everyone knows it's Slinky.

The fruit of Goodyear's labor, in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has born an ingenious design and next-level technology: the slinky. Well, not necessarily a slinky, but a combination of springs built into a wheel for incredible strength, unbelievable shock absorption and the ability to maintain functionality even if a few of the springs snap. The Spring Tire replaces NASA's Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle's old tires used on the first missions to the moon.

The tires back then were made using piano wire with titanium cleat treads. The Spring Tires consist of 800 load-bearing springs mounted to a six-spoke metal hub with benefits said to be numerous. "This tire is extremely durable and very energy efficient," said Goodyear's lead researcher on the Spring Tire project Joe Lettieri. He further commented: "The spring design contours to any surface providing maximum traction. All of the energy used to deform the tire is returned when the springs rebound, so it will not generate heat like a pneumatic tire."

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In addition to being able to handle various rough and rugged terrains on foreign planets, they don't require any air or rubber so as not to be degraded by unfiltered solar radiation. Goodyear and NASA's next-gen tires will be used on some of the harshest terrain on Earth along with being tweaked further for applications on foreign satellites. No word on spinners yet.