At Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022, Hankook presented the latest version of the futuristic airless i-Flex concept tire as part of a cooperation with the Hyundai Motor Company. The biomimetic design enables excellent shock absorption and load-bearing capacity while the airless construction increases safety and reduces maintenance costs – important advantages for autonomous mobility concepts.
At CES 2022, Hyundai has unveiled its Plug & Drive (PnD) Module for the first time. It is based on robotics technology that enables the Mobility of Things (MoT), an ecosystem in which all objects are mobile. Hankook’s i-Flex is fitted to maximize the characteristics and functions of the PnD module.
The i-Flex is a futuristic non-pneumatic concept tire featuring a biomimetic design. It has a compact size of 10 inches, with a diameter of 400 mm and a width of 105 mm. As it does not contain air, unlike conventional tires, it is safer, not prone to punctures, and also requires no maintenance from the point of view of air-pressure monitoring or refills, making it an optimal solution for autonomous vehicles.
The i-Flex was developed through rigorous biomimetic studies and testing. To absorb the shocks of the road and for it to be able to carry heavy loads, the design of a multi-layer interlocking spoke inspired by the cellular structure of living organisms was adopted. The multi-layer interlocking spoke structures the cell in three dimensions for better shock absorption while allowing hexagonal and tetragonal cell structures of different rigidities to join together for more stable load support.
In addition, a C-shaped concave profile has been applied to ensure the maximum contact patch, improving driving safety. The tread, designed for multidirectional vehicle movement, adopts the characteristic honeycomb design of the tire body.
Hankook Tire is dedicated to building a more sustainable future in mobility and has been working on non-pneumatic tire technology since 2010. This continuous effort led to the birth of i-Flex, but Hankook is continuing research and development for further improvements.