Origami in tyres: Shape-shifting transformable tyres are here.
People love origami as an art form. Origami is nothing but the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. But what if we use the same art form for tyres? That’s what Hankook’s R & D department did. Hankook origami transformable wheel can change its diameter drastically and carry heavy loads.
Although, the project is not easy as it looks. It took nearly a decade for researchers to come to this juncture. Now, they have fully functioning transforming wheels. These wheels can change diameter from 46 to 80 cm. At the same time, these tyres can support the weight of a full-size vehicle on top.
The Hankook origami transformable wheel construction
The wheels have three layers of the flexible composite membrane. The three-layer construction has the same design as the origami waterbomb. In addition, the non-folding panels get sandwiched between aluminum facet panels to increase the structural strength.
Furthermore, if you squeeze Hankook origami transformable wheels, they fold, giving you the maximum diameter. So, if you collapse them, they can reduce the diameter to a minimum. The internal locking plates provide support and structural strength to the tyres.
In addition, on the inner hub walls, they have pressure plates. These pressure plates vary the diameter of the wheels by pushing wheels outwards. Hence, you can change the diameters of vehicle wheels on your wish. That’s it; this is the idea and technology behind these wheels.
The shape-shifting Hankook origami transformable wheels have immense potential and applications. Robotics is a sector where these wheels will do the job. The robots can climb over obstacles or duck below them very quickly. These tyres can also be helpful in space exploration rovers.
Furthermore, a change in the tyre’s shape can increase or decrease the vehicle’s height massively. As a result, it has massive potential in off or no-road driving. Although, in the current state, they are far away from commercial use as it is still a bumpy ride. It will need lots of design iterations to make the ride smooth selling. But we are sure the researchers will achieve this, opening up the next frontier in the automotive industry.
In conclusion, The Hankook origami transformable wheel is a remarkable achievement. We are very excited to see these wheels on future cars.
Image courtesy: Hankook