Michelin is working with General Motors (GM) on a tyre called the Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System, handily abbreviated to Uptis, which could be ready for production by 2024.
At the moment, the Uptis Prototype is being put through its paces in a controlled environment on the Chevrolet Bolt, but the companies will move into the real world later this year.
As for why Michelin is prepping air-free tyres? With no risk of punctures, airless setups like the Uptis are inherently safer than regular rubber. For commercial operators – or autonomous operators, going forward – that greatly reduces the maintenance costs of operating a large fleet of vehicles.
And because they won't rupture or wear irregularly, airless tyres also have the potential to be much greener than what we currently use. According to Michelin, around 20% of tyres (200 million tyres) scrapped annually can be blamed on blowouts, or irregular wear caused by drivers running the wrong pressures.
By slashing the number of tyres that need scrapping, Michelin says it can slash pollution from scrapping and reduce the amount of raw material required to construct new tyres.
At the moment, the Uptis is just a prototype. But Michelin and GM are hoping to have it production ready by 2024, provided all goes smoothly during development.