Future self-driving cars might levitate over spherical wheels

We're painting ours like 4 little BB-8s

Goodyear have shown off concept wheel and tire designs they think could be used on self-driving cars in the near future. Their Eagle-360 concept wheels are spherical, they use magnetic levitation (maglev), and they could change how future cars drive.

Using spherical wheels seems very futuristic and we don’t know if they’ll ever go mainstream, but they could bring some amazing benefits to our future self-driving vehicles. The maglev technology would lift the car’s body above the spherical wheels, removing the need for an axle and allowing the wheels to move in any direction. This could drastically improve car handling. Imagine something was coming right at the car as it’s parked. You could strafe to the side to avoid it. There would be no more tricky 3 point turns either; instead you could spin 360°.

The maglev technology would also make the car lighter, which would improve fuel efficiency and top speeds due to the lack of friction. This is why maglev trains are so fast. The train hovers over the tracks and the lack of friction allows speeds of 375 mph.

Goodyear claim to be inspired by nature in their Eagle-360 designs and this is clear from the tire material itself, which acts like living sponges. The tires would soften in the wet but harden in the dry, meaning one tyre type could be ideal for all weather conditions.

The Eagle-360 is just a concept for now but it could technically work and looks like something from a sci-fi movie. We like that.

Main image © Goodyear