WASHINGTON: An Indian-American owned engineering firm is developing zero pressure tyre for the U.S. military, which would change the dynamics of not only war but also the auto industry.
Though military vehicle tyres are now equipped with run-flat inserts, the defence department wants to upgrade to a zero pressure tyre that's better at carrying heavier loads and can quickly move soldiers out of harm's way, it added.
Zero pressure tyres have been around for a long time, with major drawbacks such as bumpy rides and overheating.
The AEG prototype dissipates heat and has the tyre flexibility and strength to support the heavy military pick-up weight while providing a relatively smooth ride.
"AEG's motivation and driving force for this project are that AEG gets the privilege to be of help to save lives of our soldiers," said its owner Abraham Pannikottu.
Abraham has a mechanical engineering degree from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (Surat, Gujarat). He later completed graduate studies in polymer science at the University of Akron. He has written several research articles on engineering applications of rubber.
His group is also working on new innovative product such as U.S. national football league helmet and implantable cost-effective titanium hip and knee.In 2006, Pentagon honoured Pannikottu and his group for designing an airless tyre for the Stryker armoured vehicle. This award was for exceptional performance that exemplifies the goal of bringing innovative technologies to the soldier.
The company has patents pending for the zero pressure tyre technology.
As for commercial applications of the zero pressure design for run-flat tyres, AEG is focusing its current efforts on the pick-up truck.
However, this technology eventually could be used on all- terrain vehicles, as well as mining and construction vehicles, the media release said.
Though military vehicles outfitted with "run-flat" tyres are supposed to travel at least 30mph for 30 miles (the minimum DOD requirement), field performance of current run-flat tyres hit by roadside bombs were reported to be much lower than this minimum requirement.
The new AEG Zero Pressure Tyre will withstand a minimum of 50 mph speeds for 300 miles once it's punctured based on results from Phase I completed studies in 2011, the statement said.
"This level of load carrying capability and survivability surprised even me," says Jon Gerhardt, one of the designers.