Shape-shifting tyres the future of motorsport
Predicting the future, the ability to shape-shift, inanimate objects with intelligence - it sounds like it could be the initial brief for a new Terry Gilliam movie, but they're all factors found in a report by Dunlop about motorsport tyres in the years ahead.
The tyre manufacturer has developed a 'futurology' report as part of the Dunlop Future Race Car Challenge, in which it has invited people online to consider what is in store for motorsport in the 22nd century.
And Dr Ian Pearson, the author of the report, reckons tyres will be able to adapt to the needs of the driver and the track, with changing materials such as polymer gels enabling rubber to change size and shape according to the demands of the race, circuit and weather conditions. It would certainly remove the tactical excitement of correct tyre selection, that's for sure.
Furthermore, if a tyre begins to wear, layers of 'microspikes' could be activated to increase the grip of the tyres, while another substance could revolutionise tyre design, according to Dr Pearson: "Graphene flakes could be placed in tyres to not only give excellent grip, but allow more of the tyre surface to stay in contact with the road surface."
And you know what they say about race track technology filtering to road cars - maybe one day we members of the public won't have to worry about tyres getting down to 1.6mm tread depth. They'll just reshape themselves to a legal level for you.
The Dunlop design project aims to imagine what race cars might look like in 125 years' time, and there's a reason behind gazing that far into the future: "It was a vet, John Boyd Dunlop, who 125 years ago invented the pneumatic tyre, not a driver or an engineer. Maybe it will take someone like a vet to invent something completely outside the box," said Jean-Felix Bazelin, general manager at Dunlop Motorsport. "I think the tyre of the future will be a smart tyre. This tyre will be able to communicate with the driver, the team manager, the car and the public."
You can find out more about communicative, shape-shifting tyres, and other far-out future race car tech, by visiting www.dunlopfutureracecarchallenge.com.
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