|Goodyear’s airless tire to be tested on Local Motors' autonomous shuttle in Florida|
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. says it plans to affix airless tires it has developed to Olli, a 3D-printed, autonomous and electric shuttle, for test runs in Florida.
The tire manufacturer is partnering with ground mobility company Local Motors and mobility network operator Beep, both of which developed the second iteration of Olli. Shuttles equipped with Goodyear's NPTs, or non-pneumatic tires, will be used in the Jacksonville Transportation Authority's Autonomous Vehicle Test & Learn program.
Jacksonville's urban landscape is ideal for testing the alternative tires because of its speed limits and streamlined travel paths, Goodyear said in a Tuesday news release.
"This is an important milestone as we look to advance mobility today and as we look to introduce the first completely sustainable and maintenance-free tires by the end of the decade," Goodyear Senior Program Manager Michael Rachita said in a statement.
Goodyear and Local Motors say they've been working on the NPT-supported shuttle for three years. The plan is to collect data — such as noise levels and ratings on ride comfort — from the Jacksonville test runs.
The companies' hope is that testing reveals more about the NPTs, which aren't pressurized. It's a technology they're floating as potentially more sustainable and less of a maintenance hassle than traditional tires. Automotive News reported that rubber-free tires still have a long way to go because of weight-handling challenges and a performance trade-off.
Local Motors President Vikrant Aggarwal said in a statement that autonomous vehicles such as Olli still need to decrease maintenance costs and "perform reliably," but added that he thinks Goodyear's NPTs will be less of a burden for maintenance teams. NPTs could become an industry standard, he said.
Goodyear is headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Local Motors is based in Phoenix, and Beep is headquartered in Orlando, Fla.
– C.J. Moore