Where the rubber misses the road: Airless tires emerging
Emerging technologies include inventions and discoveries that are fairly new, not well communicated and perhaps not well understood. Often these technologies require some work to make them practical for a market.
For example, let’s examine the wheel/tire combination. This technology is important because of its extensive use in diverse applications including passenger vehicles, bicycles, aircraft and heavy construction equipment.
Is there an emerging technology in the wheel-tire technology space?
Certainly, some incremental improvements have occurred with examples including stiffeners for run-flat protection (left) and tire pressure monitoring systems (right). These were emerging technologies at one time but they are now commonplace in the market.
Perhaps the single biggest problem with the wheel/tire combination is that the tire contains pressurized air that can leak to the outside. In the worst case, the tire will collapse and become useless in a very short amount of time. Even slow leaks are problematic since these can create hazardous driving conditions and poor vehicle efficiency.
An emerging technology that seeks to resolve this problem is airless tires. While this technology has researched and tested for many years, it is still not practical on a wide-scale market basis.
Here is an example of an airless adjacent technology:
Take a look at two examples of airless wheel/tires under development and intended for the automotive market:
While the airless wheel/tire combination can be considered an emerging technology, it may or may not become a disruptive technology.
Run-flat tire: BMK, Germany (Wikimedia)
Tire Pressure Monitoring: Lumu (Wikimedia)
Airless tire #1: Crocodile Corporation Ltd (Wikimedia)
Airless tire #2: Carnegie Mellon University, KVDP (Wikimedia)