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 tires yet, but the company is trying to make our dreams come true with a concept tire that doubles as a propeller for flying cars. It’s about freaking time.
The tire 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 tire acts as a normal tire when a vehicle is on the ground. It doesn’t need air – the structure inside the thin tire is non-pneumatic and able to absorb bumps as a typical modern-day tire 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 Tire Concept
In its second mode, the tire tilts 90 degrees and spins parallel to the ground. The spokes which support the tire on the ground are also shaped like propellers, providing lift. With a tiltrotor tire at each corner, the car basically becomes a quadcopter. Suddenly that Back to the Future reference seems pretty darned close to reality, right?
The tire is certainly a cool idea, but getting it to work is a completely different challenge. Goodyear proposes such a tire would utilize 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 tire would also utilize artificial intelligence to analyze 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.