Polaris Defense, a division of Polaris Industries Inc., recently introduced the Non-Pneumatic Tire (NPT).
These airless tires are designed to not go flat. A honeycomb-like structure inside keeps the tire rigid without the need for an air-filled cavity found in normal tires. That way, a NPT can never lose pressure if damaged because it has none to begin with. And the web is surrounded by a rubber tread band which allows continuous operation, even if up to 30 percent of the web is damaged. No more flat tires? Sounds good to me.
Richard Haddad, Polaris Defense General Manager, said they “have tested our NPTs over 5,000 miles with a .50 caliber bullet hole and the performance exceeded expectations.”
Polaris didn’t invent the technology. It bought Wisconsin-based Resilient Technologies, a 12-person start-up that first made airless lawn mower tires, in April and sought to jazz it up for bigger applications.
These tires sound great on paper, but will they work in real-world ATV use? They seem to work great at slow speeds over rocks and in sand but I’d like to see them used in thick mud or snow. I would imagine that the grid would get filled up with ice and mud and throw the tire off-balance.
NASA believes in the NPT technology and outfitted the new Lunar Rover with a custom version of Michelin’s Tweel on its 12 wheels.