Michelin has been showing off its idea of combining the wheel and tire into a single component as far back as 2005.
Dubbed the Tweel, the novel design replaced standard pneumatic tires and metal wheels with deforming spokes around a hub. While uses of the Tweel are still limited, the tech is about to get a big upgrade in production with Michelin opening a dedicated factory to build them in Piedmont, SC, on November 20th.
While there are no automotive offerings yet, the Tweel is already available for skid steer loaders and certain models of John Deere lawnmowers. The current design uses a steel center hub that bolts up just like a regular wheel, and poly-resin spokes radiate outward to support the treads. With no air inside, there's no way for one of these to go flat, and it deforms around most obstacles. Michelin also claims that the Tweel offers three times the wear life of a traditional, pneumatic tire.
Scroll down to watch three videos showing off the punishment that the Tweel can take. It fascinating to watch how it works.