Skip to main content

Goodyear wants to replace your tires with mag-lev rubber balls

Though there have been significant changes to tire technology over the years, the general size and shape of a passenger vehicle’s tire has remained the same for decades.

However, Goodyear is ready for the next wave with the introduction of the manufacturer’s Eagle-360 tire at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

Designed for use on future autonomous vehicles, the Eagle-360 is a spherical tire that would be suspended from a car by magnetic fields. The closest analogy to this is the way maglev trains levitate through the use of magnetic poles. Goodyear claims that passenger comfort would be dramatically changed for the better while road noise would be diminished. That makes sense, considering how the interaction with the road surface is transferred to vehicle occupants because of the physical link between tire and axle.

Beyond the benefits to passengers, the ball-shaped design lets the tire move in all directions, obviously increasing a car’s maneuverability to literally all directions. And here’s a big win: if all the tires are spheres, you’d never have to parallel park again. Simply pull up next to a space, and move over horizontally.

eagle-360-de-goodyear-2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s more than just a magnetic ball, though, as Goodyear has incorporated technology that enables the tires to “move as needed.” Though that’s a bit vague, the manufacturer gave the example that when the tire detects hazards like black ice, it will stop moving to reduce slip. Other sensors within the tire collect road condition information and share it with other drivers (which, I suppose would be tire-to-car communication). To extrapolate, the tires could even talk to road authorities to prepare them for road risks, improve response time, or to create slow zones during emergencies.

There are some obvious design issues to be tackled. For example, because of the size of the tire sphere, tucking the tire under a car’s fender would require shortening the front and rear axles considerably. Then there’s the potential expense. High-quality rubber can already cost shoppers a fair penny, and sensor-loaded balls of rubber (with a lot more area to cover) would certainly be more expensive.

Assuming these obstacles could be overcome, it’s a neat idea and I certainly hope Goodyear pursues the concept, if not for the next decade’s crop of cars, then for some future crop of them.

Miles Branman
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Miles Branman doesn't need sustenance; he needs cars. While the gearhead gene wasn't strong in his own family, Miles…
Waymo robotaxi attacked and set on fire in San Francisco
Waymo Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV

A Waymo self-driving car was set upon by vandals in San Francisco on Saturday evening.

According to footage and eyewitness reports of the incident, the attackers graffitied the car before smashing its windows and throwing fireworks inside. The vehicle then caught fire and burned before fire crews arrived to extinguish the blaze.

Read more
Honda’s electric SUV is coming soon. Here’s what we know about the 2024 Prologue
2024 Honda Prologue Front

Slowly, but surely, every large car company is getting on board with electric cars. While most of them have released at least one electric model so far, some are still readying their first.

Did you know, however, that Honda is not one of those latter companies? The Honda Clarity was taken off the market a few years ago, and finally, it now looks like Honda is preparing to launch its first of a new generation of electric cars -- the 2024 Honda Prologue SUV.

Read more
Chrysler Halcyon concept is a return to glory for the minivan brand
Profile view of the Chrysler Halcyon concept with its doors open.

Chrysler plans to launch its first EV in 2025, but the foundational brand of automotive conglomerate Stellantis may be taking a detour on the road toward that goal. In 2022, Chrysler showed the Airflow, a concept car reportedly previewing that first production EV. But now the brand has a new EV concept dubbed the Halcyon.

Where the Airflow was a handsome but sensible crossover SUV, the Halcyon is a bit more fanciful. The low-slung four-door looks like Chrysler's attempt to clone the Porsche Taycan. It's even got front-fender air outlets like the Porsche, part of an aerodynamic package that includes a sliding rear diffuser and a rear spoiler. It's all meant to minimize aerodynamic drag and improve range. An air suspension system can also adjust to further enhance efficiency, or improve driving dynamics, according to Chrysler.

Read more