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Goodyear pushing airless tire development with testing partnership

Goodyear has agreed to work with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and autonomous vehicle developers Beep Inc. and Local Motors Inc. to push the development of the non-pneumatic tire/wheel assembly concept.

The new partnership follows on three years of development work that Goodyear and Local Motors have carried on the latter's "Olli" eight-passenger autonomous shuttle vehicles at Goodyear testing facilities and other locations.

Goodyear did not provide a description of its non-pneumatic tire/wheel but visually it resembles similar products being tested by other companies in its open-spoke design and flat tread. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority plans to use Goodyear's non-pneumatic tire/wheel on an "urban circulator" AV it has in development. "This collaboration is another example of how Jacksonville is leading the public transportation industry in developing AV mobility solutions," JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford Sr. said, noting the project is being carried out under JTA's Autonomous Vehicle Test & Learn program.

"Testing with best-in-class software and technology partners is enabling the JTA to lead globally in readiness for the use of autonomous platform in an urban environment," he said.

Joe Moye, CEO of Orlando, Fla.-based Beep, added: "We are excited for the opportunity to extend the Test & Learn program with the JTA, Goodyear and Local Motors to prove out the use of other innovations such as the Goodyear airless tires, as this will only further transform transportation as we know it."

Michael Rachita, Goodyear's senior program manager, non-pneumatic tires, said: "As mobility evolves, we feel that tires can transform the way we move, and alternative airless architectures are ideal, particularly in the emerging autonomous transportation environment.

"This is an important milestone as we look to advance mobility today and as we look to introduce the first completely sustainable and maintenance-free tires by the end of the decade."

The urban transportation environment provides an ideal testing scenario for the alternative tire architecture given its lower speed and less variable travel paths, Goodyear said.

Local Motors and Goodyear will gather experiential data from the JTA, looking for viewpoints on ride comfort, noise and other variables.

"Autonomous vehicles, like Olli, need to decrease maintenance costs and perform reliably," Local Motors President Vikrant Aggarwal noted. "Goodyear's non-pneumatic tires are positioned to give maintenance teams less to worry about while giving passengers a quiet, consistent ride. Non-pneumatic tires may just be the industry standard in the coming years."

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