Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to worry so much about all those alignment-altering potholes and bumps on the road?
That day might be coming, and I’m not talking about impervious roads or constant resurfacing.
Engineers at NASA have one-upped their own award-winning steel Spring Tires by making them out of nickel titanium, a shape memory alloy that can absorb nasty road hazards and impressively regain its shape.
“This particular material doesn’t deform like conventional materials wherein those materials when we put stress on them we are basically stretching the bonds between the atomic structures,” Santo Padulla, NASA materials research engineer, explains in the video below. “This material has the unique characteristic that allows it to do an atomic rearrangement to accommodate deformation, and that let’s us do about 30 times the deformation we could do with conventional material without having permanent deformation.”
While NASA’s new tire is currently being designed for extraterrestrial travel, it may one day be bolted onto vehicles here on Earth. NASA is definitely no stranger to high-tech wheel development. In 2010, the storied space agency received an R&D 100 award for its steel Spring Tire. It shared the award with Goodyear.