But, like cars, those rubber bits are getting ever smarter. Meet Oxygene, Goodyear’s pollution-beating concept tyre that aims to help clean up the air around the cities of the future.
How? By growing moss on the sidewalls, of course.
It might sound like a whacky idea conjured in a holy herb smoking session (and perhaps it was), but the Oxygene is being taken seriously enough to be recently awarded the ‘Best Green Idea’ prize at this year’s Creative Awards.
This takes the ‘going-green’concept literally by giving the tyre a unique structure that features living moss growing on the sidewall. As the car’s being driven, the tyre absorbs moisture from the road through its unique tread and takes CO2 from the air to feed the moss and release oxygen into the air via photosynthesis.
Because air pollution’s a big deal and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80% of people who live in air pollution-measured urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits.
Goodyear reckons that if all 2.5 million vehicles in Paris, France, were fitted with such tyres, it could generate nearly 3 000 tons of oxygen and absorb more than 4 000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
“With more than two-thirds of the world population expected to live in cities by 2050, the demands on transport networks in urban environments will increase substantially,” said Chris Delaney, President of Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Smarter, greener infrastructure and transport will be crucial in addressing the most pressing challenges of urban mobility and development.”
Goodyear’s Oxygene concept offers two other planet-friendly solutions: recycling, and generating its own electricity.
The tyre features a solid construction that is 3D-printed with rubber powder from recycled tyres. The lightweight, shock-absorbing structure provides a long-lasting, puncture-free solution intended to extend the life of the tyre.
And in terms of generating its own electricity, the tyre harvests the energy generated during photosynthesis to power its embedded electronics, including onboard sensors, an artificial intelligence processing unit, and a customisable light strip in the sidewall that changes colour to warn other road users of upcoming manoeuvres, such as lane changes or braking.
“Oxygene is meant to challenge our thinking and help drive the debate around smart, safe and sustainable future mobility,” Delaney said.
“By contributing in this way to cleaner air generation, the tyre could help enhance quality of life and health for city-dwellers.”
Goodyear didn’t say when such a tyre might reach production.