|Taking life on Mars for a spin|
Scooter riders could soon take a bit of Mars technology for a spin.
NASA, SMART Tire Co. and micromobility company Spin are testing tire technology that was used on lunar and Mars rover missions for consumer applications.
SMART — which stands for Shape Memory Alloy Radial Technology — is applying NASA's shape memory alloy tire technology to an eco-friendly bike tire named METL.
METL is an airless, lighter-weight tire that "is elastic like rubber yet strong like titanium, exhibiting perfect shape memory," SMART said in a statement. The technology is a flexible, "space-age" metal that never goes flat, SMART says.
The company has been developing shape memory alloy tires for traditional bicycles and is conducting R&D for e-scooters at Spin, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co.
"Shape memory alloys look extremely promising in revolutionizing the entire terrestrial tire industry," Santo Padula, a materials science engineer at NASA, said in the statement, "and that's just the tip of the iceberg."
The partners say that the airless solution could minimize environmental impacts of traditional rubber tires. METL tires are expected to hit the market early next year.
– Alexa St. John