Goodyear is going to the moon once again!
US tyre company Goodyear has announced it is partnering with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin to develop new airless lunar vehicle tyres for its upcoming Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV).
As previously detailed, this LTV is being co-developed by Lockheed Martin and General Motors (GM) and will be battery-powered and feature autonomous capabilities.
The LTV will be the first of many types of surface vehicles required for the NASA’s Artemis program, which is currently planned to kick off in 2025 and will have the first woman and first person of colour walk on the moon.
Goodyear has a long history of developing airless tyre technology and supplied products, including tyres, for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
For this latest iteration of lunar airless tyre technology, Goodyear is drawing from its existing airless autonomous shuttle and passenger vehicle tyre technology.
It will have to withstand temperatures ranging from -156 degrees Celsius to 121 degrees Celsius and be developed “for years of durability”.
Goodyear and Lockheed Martin say they already have test concepts of the LTV with its airless lunar tyres in lunar soil test beds.
“Everything we learn from making tyres for the Moon’s extremely difficult operating environment will help us make better airless tyres on Earth,” said Goodyear chief technology officer Chris Helsel.
Airless tyres at a consumer level are on the cutting-edge of tyre technology and are claimed to require less maintenance and reduce the amount of tyres scrapped due to punctures.
The most challenging aspect of consumer-level airless tyres is how they perform compared to traditional pneumatic tyres.
Goodyear isn’t the only company working on airless tyres, with Michelin preparing its own consumer airless tyres for a 2024 market launch.
First revealed in 2019, Michelin has been working on its airless Uptis consumer car tyre for around 10 years.
Standing for Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System, these tyres don’t need air in order to be inflated.
This isn’t the only type of airless tyre that Michelin is working on.
The company already has its Tweel airless radial tyres that are available for purchase in North America.
These tyres are meant for ATVs, golf cars, ride-on mowers, as well as small commercial applications.
They were also seen in the HBO TV series, Westworld, fitted to Can-Am Maverick X3 ATVs in prototype form.