Airless tires (again)

I do rarely begin to disagree with earlier blog posts of mine. This is such an example.

Back in 2008 I wrote about how the basic idea of the tweel (rubber honeycomb structure wheel without pneumatic functionality) had been transferred to military vehicle demonstrator ... as if it was news.

Well, it turned out to be an old story. I fell for the U.S. skill of pretending that something done in the U.S. is new when it was really old. Well, they did not explicitly state that it's new, but the source implied that it was based on new research and development, making me believe it was new.

An old copy of "Military Ordnance" March 1999 (Vol. 9 No.2), p. 13 proved otherwise.

The South Africans were quicker.

Even worse; my example of spring-cushioned tires in Germany during the First World War was likely not the first application of such a technology either. Those springs were apparently tried out back in the late 19th century until pneumatic rubber tires were found to be better (as long as natural rubber can be imported).


edit 2014 thanks to secretprojects forum :

edit 2019: Another blast from the past, already the 1930's:
It might be an American invention after all!



  1. Interesting stuff Sven, the Resilient Technologies website is still active, I wonder how close they are to production of a workable solution


    A lot of the modern vehicles now use variable tyre inflation systems to adjust ground pressure and improve off road mobility or on road speed, how would the airless tyre deliver a similar variable footprint?

  2. That's relatively simple. You can round the contact surface a bit or design the wheel with steps.
    The small road driving surface would sink into soft soil and the other wheel surfaces would come into contact with the soil.

  3. It seems to be even older, here we have the Martin tyre circa 1943:


    Supposedly from the patent:

    "The primary purpose of my invention is to provide an easier riding and safer type of tire and one which will not require a spare tire for change over on the road. A further object is to provide a type of tire which will permit control of an automobile over rough roads at higher speeds than are possible with inflated tires and a still further object is to provide a comparatively cool tire at high speeds. Still further objects are to provide a flexible type of tire for climbing curbs or tracks at small angles and to hold and conform to the road while delivering less violence to the axles over bumps in the road. "

    Another article: https://jalopnik.com/the-tires-of-the-future-were-actually-invented-in-the-1-1792098486