The Michelin VISION is a blue, bio-sourced, and biodegradable 3D printed tire that looks like it rolled off the set of Avatar. But what the spongy lotus root shaped tires really represents is a future when flat tires become a distant worry, organic and recyclable materials will replace rubber, and treads can be “recharged” and printed directly onto the tires when wear, tear, or driving conditions demand a new set for comfort and safety.
The speculative design shares very little resemblance to the rubbery and air inflated treads we roll across roads today. And that’s because Michelin’s research teams at the Ladoux Research Center turned to the nascent capabilities of generative design – a technology utilizing computational power to mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design in numerous iterations – to explore forms with more semblance to plant structures than any tires rolling across asphalt today.
The future of four wheel cruising shares some striking similarities with the emerging 3D-printed designs being explored across the athletic shoe industry, where latticed forms provide energy-returning support with a near identical biomorphic intricacy.
A fully biodegradable tire and a rechargeable 3D-printed tire is still at least a decade away from becoming reality, let alone adopted by the public currently used to rubber treads. For now Michelin is content showcasing their conceptual vision as an example of what they believe will come to life in incremental iterations, slowly convincing the public with every revolution of the evolution of mobility.