Hankook showed the first airless tire at Ces 2022 in Las Vegas: it is called i-Flex and, thanks to the collaboration with Hyundai, it was mounted on the modular Plug & Drive (PnD) platform of the South Korean manufacturer that allows the mobility of normally inanimate objects, robots and robotic concepts I-Flex is characterized by a biomimetic design, the result of science (biomimicry in fact) that studies and imitates the biological and biomechanical processes of nature and living beings as a source of inspiration for the improvement of human activities and technologies. It allows excellent shock absorption and considerable vertical load capacity, while the fact of not having air inside increases safety while reducing maintenance costs: having no air inside, it is not subject to punctures or leaks of pressure. Important qualities with a view to the mobility of the future with autonomous driving.
As for dimensions, the model seen at Ces is small, with a diameter of 400 mm and a width of 105 mm. As for the structure, to absorb the shocks of the road and be able to carry heavy loads, the Hankook technicians were inspired by the cellular structure of living organisms, with multilayer interconnections to connect the myriad of small hexagonal and tetragonal structures, of different stiffness for a more stable load support. In addition, the concave C-shaped tread profile ensures maximum contact patch on the road, maximizing safety. The tread - designed for the multidirectional movement of the vehicle - adopts the same characteristic honeycomb pattern of the inside of the tire.
Recently, Hankook tyres launched a brand new futuristic, even revolutionary tyre; the iFlex. These new wheels, which are made from synthetic polyurethane, are 95% recyclable. The sound comfort is said to be increased compared to a regular tyre and even the fuel consumption is said to be significantly reduced. In addition to being puncture resistant, the "airless", which is inspired by the tracks used on tanks and snowmobiles, has several advantages.
Lighter than a regular tyre, the iFlex offers maximum shock absorption thanks to the notches in its structure. With no rims, this tyre is made up of a single component, maximising your safety. Such a tyre would be able to adapt to changes in the car and different types of road surfaces. In fact, when speed increases, the central band of the tyre sags, leaving a larger contact area with the ground, which favours grip. On the contrary, at low speeds, the central band retracts, limiting the surface of contact with the ground to the edges of the tyre, with the aim of reducing fuel consumption. This new technology is therefore simpler, more economical and environmentally friendly. For the time being, no date has been given by Hankook Tyres for the launch.