Montreal, Quebec — Group Michelin's "Vision" for sustainable mobility is more than an idea, it's also a tangible product, a concept tire/wheel hybrid that's a concentration of technologies developed by a combination of creative design thinking and consultation with end-users.
Terry Gettys, executive vice president of research and development for Michelin, unveiled the Vision "airless, connected, rechargeable, customisable and organic" concept 14 June during Michelin's Movin'On 2017 conference in Montreal.
"In managing research and development at Michelin, I often get the question, how do we select our plans for disruptive technologies?" Gettys said at the Movin'On news conference.
"We try to deliver on this proposition: better solutions for sustainable mobility."
According to Michelin publicity, the Vision project was launched in autumn 2016 under the leadership of the Michelin Corporate Innovation Board (CIB).
"The CIB's road map was simple: imagine an object that signified the mobility of the future, that was packed with converging technologies and offered an ultra-high level of environmental performance, in accordance with the group's 4R strategy (Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Renew) and Michelin's values," the company said.
Under the direction of group designer Mostapha El-Oulhani, the process stressed co-construction with users and experts, according to Michelin.
The CIB interviewed around 90 people, ranging from airline pilots and engineering equipment drivers to farmers and bike-riding children, the tire maker said.
"From these discussions, important needs were identified, in particular concerning sustainability," it said.
"No users wanted to reduce their need for safety," it said.
"Grip in all weather conditions and effective braking in all circumstances were essential. In addition, users embraced environmental responsibility. They wanted to consume cleanly."
Under the Vision concept, a tire can be printed in 3D and is rechargeable according to its level of wear and mobility needs, Michelin said.
The tread design is optimised and tread depth is reduced to make the tire more efficient in its use of materials, it said.
Instead of air, the tire relies on an inner architecture capable of supporting the vehicle, it said.
"Equipped with sensors, Vision provides real-time information about its condition," Michelin said. "What's more, thanks to Michelin's mobile application, it's possible to simply make an appointment to change the tire's destination, depending on the user's needs."
This feature is carried out via 3D imaging, according to Michelin.
Movin'On 2017 is the 13th mobility conference Michelin has sponsored since 1998, but the first to be called Movin'On. The first 12 conferences, held at various places around the world and called Challenge Bibendum, were similar to the latest event in that they offered various presentations, discussions and proposed solutions to the world's mobility problems.
More than 4,000 attended Movin'On in Montreal, according to Michelin.