The concept of an air-free tyre has been around for some time but has not yet seen mainstream production. This will soon change when Polaris launches its non-pneumatic tyre (NPT) for all-terrain vehicles early next year.
The tyre, which was originally developed for military applications where sustained mobility is extremely important, has a honeycomb structure made from proprietary plastic that is capable of flexing over most obstacles. The plastic webbing allows the wheel to carry the load in tension across the top of the wheel in a similar fashion to the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Robustness and durability have been proven with thousands of kilometres of testing in extreme environments.
In a military-spec test, a .50-calibre gun was fired at a tyre but it was still able to complete a 1 600 km test route. A side benefit of using NPT technology is that these wheels run extremely quietly because there is no resonance effect of road noise in the air cavity as found in pneumatic tyres.