Goodyear Aero concept tire can roll as well as it flies

Bladed spokes also act as fan blades to propel a flying car

Far-future-world scenarios generally fit two camps: every city an above-ground landfill filled with grimy famine and high-tech, or a cyber-Bambi Shangri-La drowning in sunshine, leisure time, and ribbons of glass road. Goodyear's vision for the Aero concept tire is the latter, and if it includes the kind of car that fits Goodyear's Aero tire, we won't mind living there. Ultimately, the concept envisions a new way to enable flying cars by turning a passenger capsule into a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.

A ring of fan blades sits like a bearing race around a static, hub-less loop. The loop doesn't rotate; a joint set inside the top of the loop is connected to the passenger cell — the car — by an articulating arm. The fan blades turn like the spokes on a wheel, since that's what they are when they're on the road, built sturdy enough to carry the car's weight. The outer surface is a flexible, airless structure firm enough to support the vehicle during normal driving.

That outer structure is also strong enough to withstand rotational forces of flight when the tires' A.I. decides flight is a better way to reach the destination. That's right, Aero concept tire does the navigation processing. By means of a magnetic force that Goodyear hasn't explained, the car rotates the Aero wheels up so that they sit parallel to the road, next to the car, the fan blades now spinning fast enough to create lift. Apparently the car can take off from standstill by lifting one wheel at at a time, or on the move by lifting two kitty-corner wheels to go airborne. Full tilt-rotor movement effectively gives the car the maneuverability of a drone.

There's more tech inside, though. Fiber optic sensors monitor the Aero's integrity throughout as well as monitoring road conditions. The embedded A.I. contains vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication modules that can not only decide when to fly, but also "resolve potential tire-related issues before they happen."

Goodyear likes to show off flights of rubber fancy at the Geneva Motor Show. In 2016 it brought a 3D-printed, spherical, levitating tire called the Eagle 360. Last year it brought its Oxygene concept tire filled with carbon-absorbing moss as a nod to the environment. The Aero concept, like those others, is "meant to trigger debate on tires and transport technologies for a new mobility ecosystem." Bring on Elysium already.

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