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As we have reported before, the idea of an airless tire (or “tweel“) is at least as old as the 1930s. Still, these photos of prototype non-pneumatic tires under development for the US military by Resilient Technologies, LLC, are pretty sick. Gimme!

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. That Guy says:

    My question is: why haven’t these already been invented and commercialized? I mean judging from appearances they aren’t terribly complicated and they sound as if they would be safer than normal tires (don’t see how you could get one of those to pop/explode) which is a pretty big draw for most.

    1. Daniel says:

      The tweel doesn’t perform well at high speeds. The problem is that the airflow around the tire doesn’t behave well and there tends to be an excessive amount of vibration which is both noisy and uncomfortable to drive. These tweels are great for off-road and slow moving vehicles, but they aren’t currently workable in higher speed applications.

      1. Darren Landrum says:

        This could be a pretty good solution for bicyclists, though.

        1. dan says:

          A good idea for cyclists? Only if you’re trying to lose weight. They look *very* heavy compared to pneumatic tyres.

          10 years ago or so they tried to sell non-pneumatic tyres for bikes in the UK, and we didn’t buy them.

      2. Anonymous says:

        Couldn’t they just add a thin layer of rubber on the sidewalls to cover the holes? It wouldn’t need to be structural or pumped up with air, but it should solve the airflow problem at high speeds. Plus they would look like every other tire, which would go over better with public adoption.

        1. Anonymous says:

          I read about this a year or so ago in popular mechanics, one comment was that a number of government officials didn’t like the idea of a tire impervious to spike sticks and what not, but ride quality is more likely the problem

        2. Anonymous says:

          They could not cover the holes, I think. One of the biggest problems any tire has is heat dissipation. I expect the holes are how this type of tire must accomplish that.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what happens when just the right sized rock gets wedged in one of the holes.

  3. Wilson! says:

    Rock, nothin’! What if a colony of giant mutant bees decide to take up residence!!!!!

  4. cyenobite2 says:

    I’m guessing the image/tire is also a prototype to show design. As Anon points out, Rocks not to mention snow or mud or even sand would get in the spaces and probably throw the wheel way out of balance. (having a 4×4 myself, occasionally snow will throw my wheel balance off).
    There is also more info on wikipedia (and a link to a CNET article).
    A google search says these already exist for bicycles, heavy machinery, golf carts, etc…

  5. Travis says:

    Um… these tires are ALL air.

    Also, these tires would be aweful at high speed, windy conditions, snow, etc… nothing like having to clean the innards of your tires, eh?