The wheel turned inside out
ARIZONA-BASED company Global Air Cylinder Wheels has turned the tradional wheel suspension system inside out and presented the world with the Air Suspension Wheel (ASW).
Instead of spokes connecting the rim to the hub, the ASW has eccentrically mounted air cylinders.
These cylinders still use compressed air to aborb shocks and smooth the ride, but unlike a pneumatic tyre that can only be pumped or deflated, the shocks are tuneable to give the rider whatever level of tyre deflection is required, from race hard to ride-on lawn mover soft.
Its engineers say the level of lateral and torque flex can also be adjusted to allow the wheel to act as a torque coupler for more traction in offroad situations with lots of torque, like bulldozers.
The treads of the AWS bolt directly onto the outer rim, and any design from any material is possible. Global Air Cylinder Wheels offer a range of pre-molded road retread options by companies such as Michelin that bolt on in sections, as well heavy-duty industrial options cast from polyurethane, urethane or steel.
The company says the inside-out-wheel can be scaled for giant trucks working on open pit mines to down wheelchairs.
The company has not yet published firm prices for the Air Suspension Wheel, but say the initial outlay will be more than for traditional pneumatic tyres.
However, the company stated ASW can last up to 13 times longer than normal mining tyres and tread replacements on a hard working dump truck will only be needed once in five years, which will cost a lot less over the lifetime of a truck.
The bolt-off treads can be changed with very little gear, no jack needed either, which will allow the mechanics to service the wheels during shift changes and lunch breaks to keep the vehicle working.
During a 10-year lifetime, the ASW also will not suffer punctures, blowouts or — as happens often when the giant tyres heat up to much, tyre explosions.
The Air Suspension Wheel turns the wheel inside out, with air-dampers in the place of spokes to absorb shocks. The wheel can scale up to work for giant dump trucks as well, where any type tread, from polyurethane to steel, can be mounted to the rim.