Are Spherical Tires the Next Big Thing?

The big rubber ball-like appendages at the corners of this Citroen EV platform are “spherical tires.” And they’re just what their name implies; they are ball-like tires. Made by Goodyear Tire for the Citroen Urban Collectif concept, it’s described as “a revolutionary mobility concept.” Well, OK then!

This is yet, another skateboard electric vehicle platform, so there isn’t much news in and of itself. But those tires; they’re worth exploring a bit. Goodyear calls its spherical tires Eagle 360 wheels. 

How do these spherical tires work?

Goodyear spherical tire 2016
Goodyear spherical tire 2016 | Goodyear

In many ways, they’re just like any tire Goodyear makes. They have the Goodyear Wingfoot logo on each tire. And they’re black rubber-but then things move away from your typical Goodyear offering. 

Each tire has an electric motor encased inside of the ball. Other EV offerings also have electric motors at the corners, but not like this. The group that conceived the tires say they function much like a computer mouse. 

“We are inventing autonomous mobility for all”

Citroen autonomous concept with Goodyear spherical tires
Citroen EV concept with spherical tires | Citroen

“At Citroen, we examine medium and long-term trends to anticipate consumer expectations and needs,” says Citroen General Manager Vincent Cobée. “We believe that this new concept can redefine the framework of urban mobility; shared, electric, and autonomous. With the solution we are presenting in partnership with Accor and JCDecaux, we are inventing autonomous mobility for all.”

However, the intent is not to ply the highways and byways of the world, Rather, it is meant for the low-speed moving of goods or passengers. So don’t expect these tires to roll under the next Ford Mustang. Citroen says 15 mph is about the Urban Collectif concept’s suggested maximum speed. 

Goodyear has been developing the spherical tire since 2016. They were envisioned to work through magnetic levitation. The tire company says mag lev delivers a quite smooth and quiet ride. That is partially because they have much more surface area than traditional tires. 

Spherical tires can self rotate for added tread life as well as adjust for different terrain

Citroen autonomous concept with Goodyear spherical tires
Citroen autonomous concept with Goodyear spherical tires | Citroen

And Goodyear says these tires can intelligently rotate to increase tread life versus how current tires function. The spherical tires would also be able to change depending on the environment. They could stiffen in dry environments and deflate for better traction on rain-soaked roads. 

But this may only be a baby step toward something bigger. Or this may be where the spherical tire begins and ends. Back in 2016, Goodyear acknowledged the spherical tire is still off into the future. But testing is ongoing. And by continuing to present it on concepts it keeps the idea out there for possible future collaboration. 

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