While many of us tuned in to our televisions to watch NASA send another rover – Perseverance – landing on Mars in February, one startup is planning to bring space-age technology to earthly inventions. With their revolutionary METL tires, SMART Tire aims to dominate the $250B global tire industry.
The company claims that these new airless flat-free tires are likely to end the issue of flat tires while reducing rubber waste and bringing sustainability into tire manufacturing. This is made possible by NASA tech that is typically used to design heavy vehicles on Mars.
Their new METL tires are designed to revolutionize the performance of cars on and off the road. Meanwhile, it will broaden up the scope of mobility moving forward. These new tires are airless and extremely durable. And, of course, they will never go flat! After all, special material nitinol+ (nickel-titanium) forms its shape. It is a ‘shape memory alloy,’ which is quite elastic like rubber and very strong like titanium.
Airless flat-free tires that reduce waste
Although these SMART tires are flat-free, the advanced NASA technology provides another game-changing advantage — these tires produce less waste. Since the environmental impact of tires is a big issue — as around 20%-30% of ocean plastic is from waste tires alone, the company has smartly addressed this issue with a practical solution.
This NASA technology still uses rubber but requires very little of it. As a result, very little rubber is wasted. Plus, these tires don’t need any structural support — as the rubber element is based completely on the tread. Furthermore, the tires don’t have any air pressure. It means that SMART tires won’t hurt fuel efficiency and lose pressure every mile, which is usually an issue with conventional tires.
How do flat-free tires work?
METL (Martensite Elasticized Tubular Loading) tires are superelastic metal, which can spring back rapidly — as it won’t ever lose its springiness. Made of nitinol wire, these tires weaves spring structure together in the form of a chainmail-like mesh.
This provides it with a perfect lattice-like support structure, which can flex like a rubber tire. But these tires don’t need any air to retain their shape. Due to this, they remain entirely flat-proof. Hence, it is virtually indestructible. And, whenever, it wears off, this METL tire can be re-coated. So, theoretically, it will last forever.
SMART tire company will use their new METL tire in a bike. These new tires use similar uses the same ‘shape memory alloy radial technology’ (SMART) material that will be used on NASA’s fetch rover in 2026.
According to Earl Cole, co-founder and CEO of The Smart Tire Company, the METL bike tires are most likely to launch in 2022. These new bike tires are being manufactured at the firm’s STC innovation center in Akron, Ohio.