Even tires considered basic are the results of massive engineering and financial investments – a single tire can include up to 20 different kinds of rubber compounds and their constructions and build techniques are so mysterious that it's easier to get a tour of the White House than a tire factory. A new tire being worked on by a team of German engineers at the University of Leipzig, however, would be a Buck Rodgers-like leap in tire tech by incorporating changeable elements to alter the shape of the tire as you drive.

The recipe for such a hoop includes "flexible actuators, piezo-ceramic actuators, shape memory alloys and 'smart materials'" that gather and process information on the road surface and weather conditions. That info would then be used to reshape the tread to optimize performance on the fly, which can mean altering groove patters and expanding and raising tread blocks. As the professor in charge said, "The driver no longer has to think about adapting their tires. The tire itself 'thinks' too."

For millions of drivers, a world in which the single word "tire" automatically means "all-terrain, all-season, high-performance tire" would be a good one. The engineers have patented their work and are showing a prototype at the Hanover Fair in Germany, yet it should come as no surprise that such a world is a long, long way off.


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  • 27 Comments
      IBx27
      • 2 Years Ago
      It will last 5,000 miles and cost too much, kind of like a german car.
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      must think about the book snow crash!
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dear Germans, Please spare us! I'm already tired of the run flats in my BMW. They ride like $hit, last half as many miles, cost about 50% more, can't be repaired and are hard to find, specially if you are on a long trip.
      alpheusiam
      • 2 Years Ago
      I can't afford gas, what's the difference if tires cost $5000. dollars each? These will definitely be standard equipment on my new $200,000.00 dollar Volt 2. I hope the tax credit is like $200,000.00. Wait Volts run on coal or nuclear or hydroelectric or diesel produced electricity, maybe my solar powered Volt will be $750,000.00 and called Volt Solyndra and have $500,000.00 tax credit paid for by the formerly rich who can't afford gas?
      Svartorn
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm sure this won't fail! lol <--German car owner
      Bryant Keith
      • 2 Years Ago
      What happens when the tires become self aware?
        SeaHag
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        You end with your car on blocks with no wheels or tires the next morning. This will happen.
        ROBERT
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        when the become aware , you become ass-simulated and resistance will be futile puny earthling lol .
        ogelbiz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        They'll go on strike for better working conditions.
      Robert Burger
      • 2 Years Ago
      I feel like these won't catch on unless made mandatory like tpms. The market out there still has trouble spending $800 on a set a tires let alone how much a set of these may cost. Otherwise let's file this under tweel.
      tazridesaharley
      • 2 Years Ago
      It seems to me that this money would be better spemt trying to fix the nut that holds the steering wheel.Besides I have no wish to pay the outrageous price these tires will cost.
      ROBERT
      • 2 Years Ago
      just more crap to go wrong and cost you your left nut to repair when it does break . no thanks , keep your damn tires i will use my COMMON SENSE when driving instead cause its free
      Commentotron
      • 2 Years Ago
      Another over engineered German solution that will fail at twice the rate and four time the cost of just getting some effing snow tires. Says the Audi driver.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        diabalos76
        • 2 Years Ago
        Believe me man, Americans know what we're doing. It's the system that's so broken it ruins even the most common sense issues like you this one you just called out. Imagine how we feel when we see things like this. We're all screaming inside, atm
      chromal
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sounds like an expensive all-season tire. Reshape all you want, unless you can transmute the compound on the fly, you're likely still better off with a set of summers and a set of winters. And how much will all this gadgetry cost? And how much unsprung weight is it going to add? I for one am unconvinced.
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