A concept airless tire named the i-Flex has been revealed by Hankook at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Featuring a biomimetic design, the futuristic concept is said to offer a high level of shock absorption and load-bearing capacity, reduce maintenance costs for drivers and increase safety due to its airless construction. The tire maker believes this will be an advantage for autonomous mobility concepts as there is no air pressure to be monitored or refilled.
Designed in a compact 10in format, the tire has a diameter of 400mm and a width of 105mm, and unlike traditional tires, the i-Flex concept won’t suffer from damaging punctures and air loss.
Developed through biomimetic studies and testing, the i-Flex has a multi-layer interlocking spoke design, which Hankook says was inspired by the cellular structure of living organisms. This spoke structure provides increased shock absorption while the hexagonal and tetragonal cell shapes made up of different rigidities work in tandem to deliver stable load support.
The i-Flex’s tread pattern consists of a c-shaped concave tread to maximize contact with the driving surface to further enhance vehicle safety. Furthermore, the tread has been designed for vehicles that move in a multitude of directions.
The airless tire is being shown as a joint entry between Hankook and Hyundai on the vehicle manufacturer’s Plug & Drive Module, also revealed at CES.
Having worked on non-pneumatic tire technology since 2010, Hankook will continue to research and develop the technology further.