In an industry first, Goodyear has developed a (non-pneumatic) airless tire (NPT) and wheel assembly to support autonomous vehicle transportation in a city setting for in-field use with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA).
“The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is proud to integrate this innovative and sustainable technology into our Autonomous Vehicle Test & Learn program as we develop the future of mobility through the Ultimate Urban Circulator,” said JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “This collaboration is another example of how Jacksonville is leading the public transportation industry in developing AV mobility solutions.”
For the past three years, Goodyear and Local Motors have tested an Olli shuttle supported by the NPT at Goodyear testing facilities and other locations reaching several performance targets with respect to load, speed and durability. While Local Motors makes extensive use of LFAM 3D printing for the production of large parts of the Olli’s body in its facilities, the Goodyear tires are not 3D printed at this time, although their intricate pattern may suggest so. However, previous tests conducted by German 3D printing company BigRep have shown that it may be possible to proficiently 3D print tires for all types of vehicles in the future.
“Autonomous vehicles, like Olli, need to decrease maintenance costs and perform reliably,” said Local Motors President Vikrant Aggarwal. “Goodyear’s non-pneumatic tires are positioned to give maintenance teams less to worry about while giving passengers a quiet, consistent ride. non-pneumatic tires may just be the industry standard in the coming years.”
In 2019, Goodyear pivoted its NPT concentration to on-road testing and a growing relationship with Local Motors. While this testing phase will reveal more about non-pneumatic tires, airless tires may offer sustainable, maintenance-free and longer-lasting options. The urban transportation environment provides an ideal testing scenario for the alternative tire architecture given its lower speed and less variable travel paths.
“Testing with best-in-class software and technology partners is enabling the JTA to lead globally in readiness for the use of an autonomous platform in an urban environment. We are excited for the opportunity to extend the Test & Learn program with the JTA, Goodyear and Local Motors to prove out the use of other innovations such as the Goodyear airless tires, as this will only further transform transportation as we know it,” said Joe Moye, Beep CEO.
Goodyear and Local Motors will gather experiential data from the JTA, looking for viewpoints on ride comfort, noise and other variables. “As mobility evolves, we feel that tires can transform the way we move and alternative airless architectures are ideal, particularly in the emerging autonomous transportation environment,” said Michael Rachita, Goodyear’s senior program manager, non-pneumatic tires. “This is an important milestone as we look to advance mobility today and as we look to introduce the first completely sustainable and maintenance-free tires by the end of the decade.”