At the Geneva International Motor Show, Goodyear unveiled a very interesting tire concept: the “Eagle-360” – a spherical tire that allows cars to move in multiple directions. The tires are not directly attached to a car’s chassis but are instead suspended underneath its body, using magnetic levitation rather than axles in order to rotate.

Magnetic design

Goodyear isn’t the first company to envision using spherical tires, but they may have come up with the perfect solution to how they can be attached: magnetic levitation.

It may seem a bit futuristic, but using magnets to keep the tires in place will enable the vehicle to move freely in all directions. Having no physical contact between the car’s chassis and the wheels will also result in a smoother ride.

Goodyear officials did not yet give concrete information on how the new technology will work, but instead compared the design to how existing magnetic levitation trains work. Magnetic trains use electrically charged magnets that lift the train cars a few inches above the tracks. Once the entire train is floating above the tracks, electricity then flows through coils within the tracks, creating magnetic fields that set the train in motion. My guess is that Goodyear will apply certain parts of this system to their design.

Better maneuverability

In addition to easier parking (though cars may be self-driving in the near-future, so you might not need to worry about parking at all), spherical tires would also significantly improve a vehicle’s maneuverability.

With spherical tires, only the wheels themselves need to change their direction making it easier to avoid unexpected obstacles.

Futuristic cars moving along at a steady pace

It may be quite some time before we see an actual vehicle with spherical tires on the road, but it’s always great to see established companies like Goodyear find creative ways to use technology to improve how things work.

Apart from their Eagle-360 tire concept, the company is also looking to use cutting-edge tech such as sensors, 3D printing, and biomimetic design for vehicles. Biomimetic are human-made things that imitate nature, they are mimicking biological systems.

15 Comments
  1. Hey David, great article as usual! Magnetic levitation had always fascinated me and the idea of being able to use it in real life is an interesting prospect. I still am a bit doubtful about whether the amount of energy required is justified. Let’s hope for the best!

  2. I spend too long with my head in my cars bonnet (not out of choice, it’s a rubbish car πŸ˜› ) and one thing this article make me think is:
    “Currently, if a car brakes down, you can roll to a stop. If this car loses power, will the wheels just jam under the chassis and act like stuck rocks?”.

    I’m sure the engineers have thought this sort of issue through and I’m eager to find out more about how these sort of fail safes work.

  3. Having cars that drive themselves and also fly? That’s what future reserves us. I’d love to see such cars on road during my life time, and I’d love even more to actually have one. Imagine how would feel to have a car that floats in air. How would it feel for you? I can’t wait for flying cars to actually come out as a thing and be available to everyone.

    • Hello JusApee. Sorry to be “Mr. disappointment” here, but I have worked at the automotive industry and I can say that, if they are still struggling to have electric cars available in large demand (Tesla is doing a great job in this direction), flying cars are something completely out of question for the next 100 years.

      • I’d say it’s more like 50 to 60 years. The speed technology is advancing is amazing. We already have self-driving cars. It’s just a jump away from flying cars. We could have magnetic rails laid down and cars could repel them from the ground to slide on those rails. Of course the initial price of the infrastructure would be huge, but in long term it’s much more than worth it, in my opinion.

  4. Well technology is advancing very quickly, that’s for sure. I can barely keep up.

    Using magnets to keep tires in place sounds pretty unsafe but maybe that’s just me. I hope they find a way to realize this though – and most importantly, make it safe to use…

  5. Interesting technology for sure. It seemed complicated at first, but it is actually a really basic idea that even I could grasp. It seems kind of scary though, to be driving on tires that are only attached to your car by magnets, even if they are powerful. This seems very futuristic, but I hope I can see it on the road someday.

  6. Incredible article, having actually tried a TESLA car before, this seems to be in another level in comparison!
    I wish we could get to live the days where these become affordable and accessible by all. The 360 concept is truly something out of movies.

  7. If the car isn’t self-driving the “steering” part is going to be quite tricky. Imagine a car being driven forward and to get past an obstacle, it has to go sideways. The wheels allow that movement but the driver might find it quite hard to drive the car sideways. I suppose though it won’t be that hard when they get used to it.

    #seupaulo an Israeli defense company made a flying car. They believe that within 25 years it will part of everyday life.

  8. Interesting, really reminds me of something straight out of I-Robot, and it also has a pretty practical reasoning behind it as well. I mean I still feel that theres going to be an issue of traction that needs to be worked out, but if they are working on this magnetic solution, then I can see it being viable.

    Though the main problem with that would be that they would only be able to be driven on certain already established roads, but then again maybe in the future we’ll have entire cities based around special roads.

    Either way, it’s cool to see technology moving forward, even if its just a design and theoretical concept so far.

  9. This really amazing, but I’m not sure I’d feel that safe driving around with a car that keeps its tires attached with magnets D: I don’t think I will be ready anytime soon to do such a thing, but this project sounds really promising! I’d like to see how the whole thing develops πŸ™‚ Super futuristic, I bet you that the first models will cost an arm and a leg though πŸ˜‰

  10. I think this is a stepping stone towards something that we’ve always thought is science fiction, in fact levitating cars are a thing (I already see self-driving cars driving around the city, and that’s surreal enough).
    I’m curious to see how this magnetic levitation contraption will work in the future, now that they’ve achieved something like this it won’t be long until they create cars with wheels like this.

  11. This is great! Reminds me of the cars from I, Robot. They looked really similar. Maneuvering is going to be a huge selling point of these cars. You don’t even need to learn how to parallel park anymore. You can just slide in sideways. Also, if you need to make a sudden left or right turn because something’s in your way your car will probably stay stable and you won’t flip over like you’d do with a car that has a higher center of gravity.

  12. This is utterly fascinating. I could almost believe it was posted on the 1st, rather than on the 13th April! What a wonderful world we do live in. It would be a bit like having a directionally controllable hovercraft, and I’ve always wanted a hovercraft… Hmmm…

  13. Spherical tires are not a new concept and has been waiting in the blocks for some time now. But this magnetic levitation sounds incredible. If both these concepts become reality, driving will be real fun as moving the car to different directions will require less space and parking lots will become more accommodating. A much smoother ride and effortless driving!!! Let’s hope for the best.

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