Back in 2009 I wrote about 'The search for the ultimate military tire', in which I reported on an airless tire being developed by a Wisconsin firm. Now Michelin's built an entire plant to produce their incarnation of this idea. The Telegraph reports:
Michelin has opened a new facility in South Carolina, USA, to produce its Tweel airless tyre.
Conceived by Michelin research engineers in the US, the Tweel is a non-pneumatic radial tyre that brings together the tyre and wheel assembly in one solid unit.
It comprises a rigid hub connected to a shear beam by flexible, deformable polyurethane spokes, all functioning as a single unit.
The Tweel is designed for commercial use, such as landscaping, construction and agriculture.
There's more at the link. Here's Michelin's publicity video about the new plant.
There are more videos about the Tweel on YouTube.
I'm very glad to see this technology go in production on a large scale at last. Its initial market will be construction, agricultural and mining machinery, but I hope it moves into mainstream motoring soon. It'll be great to no longer have to worry about punctures or damaged sidewalls.