The biomimetic design enables excellent shock absorption and load-bearing capacity while the airless construction increases safety and reduces maintenance costs – important advantages for autonomous mobility concepts.
Autonomous mobility solutions of the future require a new generation of tyres that combine minimal maintenance with maximum safety and excellent comfort. Non-pneumatic tyres (NPT) are predestined for this field of application. Global tyre company Hankook Tire & Technology showcased its "i-Flex" airless tyre in a joint entry with Hyundai Motor Company at the world's largest consumer technology event, the CES 2022, held 5-8 January.
At CES 2022, Hyundai Motor Company unveiled its Plug & Drive (PnD) Module for the first time. It is based on robotics technology that enables the Mobility of Things (MoT), an ecosystem in which all objects are mobile. Hankook's i-Flex is fitted to maximize the characteristics and functions of the PnD module.
The i-Flex is a futuristic non-pneumatic concept tyre featuring biomimetic design. The compact 10-inch format, a diameter of 400 mm and width of 105 mm in combination with the airless construction make the latest version the optimal transport partner. And in contrast to conventional tyres, accidents caused by punctures are a thing of the past. Furthermore, the tyre does not require air-pressure monitoring or refills, making it an optimal solution for autonomous vehicles.
The i-Flex was developed using rigorous biomimetic studies and testing. To absorb shocks from the road and for it to be able to carry heavy loads, the design of a multi-layer interlocking spoke inspired by the cellular structure of living organisms was adopted. The multi-layer interlocking spoke structures the cell in three dimensions for better shock absorption while allowing hexagonal and tetragonal cell structures of different rigidities to join for more stable load support.
In addition, a c-shaped concave tread profile ensures the maximum contact patch, contributing to safety on the road. The tread, designed for multidirectional vehicle movement, adopts the characteristic honeycomb design of the tyre body.
Hankook Tire is dedicated to building a more sustainable future in mobility, and therefore has been working on non-pneumatic tyre technology since 2010. This continuous effort led to the birth of the i-Flex, an airless tyre with high safety, low maintenance and high sustainability – which now serves as an ideal solution for future mobility. Hankook is continuing its research and development to make further improvements.
Hankook Innovative Performance (HIP), Hankook Tire's philosophy for technology, is at the core of the company's commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility. To this end, Hankook Tire will continue to carry out projects that enable positive change for the future while allowing the company to strengthen its competitiveness in the market with innovative technologies.