Hankook envisions concept tires that transform on the fly (and drive on water)

At the Essen Motor Show in Germany this week, Tire manufacturer Hankook showed the world its vision of future tire technology, and it goes way beyond different tread patterns.

The vast technological innovations that go into tire development can’t be understated. They save lives, improve performance, and make treacherous conditions manageable. Ultimately, however, they haven’t changed much in concept from the time when people hauling carts around slapped a band of padding to wooden wheels centuries ago. Tires today aren’t much more than slabs of rubber wrapped around a metal hub, and that’s why companies like Hankook participate in engineering exercises to explore what’s possible beyond the simple, traditional concept.

This year, the company revealed three concepts of wheels that are capable of changing their shapes dynamically, altering their performance through rapid changes in terrain and conditions. The “Boostrac” tire is essentially a dune buggy-type wheel made up of hexagonal tread blocks that can expand, changing up the traction to plow through sand or scale a steep mountain path.


“Alpike” is the tire that can expand its circumference, making driving through snow much easier. When the tire expands, the gaps in the tread and exposed studs grip icy surfaces better, as well. Lastly, the “HyBlade” has a water-wheel-like design and pop-out fins to paddle through water like a riverboat.

Dubbed the Design Innovation project, Hankook works closely with a chosen university every two years to produce these stunning concepts. This year, Hankook teamed up with the University of Design, Engineering and Business in Pforzheim, Germany to create the concept tires, meant to reflect the brand’s research and development initiatives going forward.

Will we see any of these tires on cars soon? No. Will these, however, be something that becomes the norm within our lifetimes? Very possibly. The notion of rubber-and-air tires is constantly being challenged by new innovations, and the concept of a dynamically adaptive tire system is an in invention just waiting to be made. It’s likely that, if a company like Hankook can make this technology applicable, we may be the generation that sees the reinvention of the wheel.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

The 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback lets you have your 444-hp cake and eat it, too

Audi expanded the RS 5 family with a high-performance sedan named Sportback. It stands out from rivals like the BMW M3 with a shapely fastback-like silhouette, and it surfs the downsizing wave with a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 in lieu…
Product Review

2019 Chevrolet Silverado is the biggest and best Silverado ever

There’s a lot to tell in our 2019 Chevrolet Silverado first drive review, from new engine options, new chassis and suspension design, new bed and tailgate features, new trailering tools, and new trim levels. Dive in and learn.
Emerging Tech

Georgia is paving the way for a high-tech, sustainable highway

A consortium of government, corporate, and non-profit entities have come together to build a “smart” highway in Georgia. See how this 18-mile route is setting an example for future constructions.

NHTSA investigating Ford F-150 seat belt fires, may recall 1.4 million trucks

The NHTSA is investigating reports of fires in five Ford F-150 pickup trucks. The NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigation is exploring whether seatbelt pretensioners caused the fires during crashes and if a recall is necessary.

2019 Honda Civic sedan and coupe add more standard driver-assist tech

The 2019 Honda Civic compact sedan and coupe get a handful of updates to stay fresh, including exterior styling tweaks, standard Honda Sensing driver aids, and a new Sport trim level.

You don’t need to go autonomous to make trucking safer

Long haul truckers are very good at their jobs, but they face long hours and unpredictable conditions. Autonomous tech may be coming, but here’s how lidar technology companies are working to enhance trucking safety today.

Danny Thompson just set a land speed record in a 50-year-old car

Danny Thompson, son of the late racing legend Mickey Thompson, has just taken his dad's Challenger 2 streamliner to a breathtaking speed of 450 mph. The feat makes it the fastest piston-powered vehicle in the world.

Porsche goes rallying, and it’s not with the model you’re thinking of

Porsche channeled its racing heritage to turn the 718 Cayman, not the Cayenne, into a rally car. The GT4-spec model was built as a fully functional concept, and it will participate in its first rally during August.
Product Review

You don't want a 360-degree dashcam, and this is why

What can 360° video do for your car? In the case of the new Waylens Secure360 dash camera, it watches for intruders and attempts to provide a complete picture of both the interior and exterior of your ride.

2019 Ford Ranger online configurator launched, pricing revealed

The 2019 Ford Ranger midsize pickup truck starts at $25,395, but a fully loaded version can top $40,000. The Ranger is making its return to the United States after a seven-year absence.

Tesla board waits for Musk’s plan to go private as Saudi Arabia stays silent

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk asked more questions than he answered when he declared he could take Tesla private. The money allegedly comes from Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich nation and Tesla investor, but officials have stayed silent.

Apple Car may make its debut in the middle of the next decade

Apple likely won't become a full-fledged manufacturer like General Motors or Ford, but the tech giant is diving into the auto industry pool. Here's everything we know about the company's automotive efforts.

Live out your Steve McQueen fantasies with this souped-up Ford Mustang Bullitt

Ford tuner Steeda teamed up with Chad McQueen, son of Steve McQueen to create the ultimate 'Bullitt' tribute car. It's an upgraded version of the recently launched 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt.