Bridgestone's airless tire concept isn't new, it was unveiled a few months ago, but somehow I missed this video from the Tokyo Motor Show. It has a nice animation about how the non-pneumatic wheel works: specially shaped plastic spokes carry the load, and deform to absorb impacts.
There are major engineering challenges to be solved for designs like this, so these aren't exactly a few months or even years away from mass production. For example, how do you keep debris from getting caught between the spokes? How will the spokes do when hit with red-hot brake rotors in a repeat braking situation? What happens if you drive over a few large nails, which penetrate through the friction layer and into the spokes, will the wheel still perform?
These type of wheels do have some very interesting tuning possibilities. For example, they could have a different lateral stiffness (very high) than radial stiffness, so impact harshness could be reduced while keeping a sharp turn-in feel.
A few years ago, Michelin brought out a concept the called the Tweel (tire+wheel). After some initial publicity, the Tweel seems to have disappeared--I can't find any new news about it on Michelin's web site any more.
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