The Autonomist
Michelin puncture-proof tyre on a red car

The puncture-proof tyre for autonomous cars

A puncture-proof tyre designed for the autonomous and shared-use future of mobility has been unveiled by Michelin.

The company says the airless Uptis Prototype has been engineered for ‘emerging forms of mobility’ as it gives vehicle fleet operators minimal downtime and ‘near-zero’ levels of maintenance.

Michelin said that the vehicles and fleets of tomorrow — whether autonomous, all-electric, shared service or other applications — will demand near-zero maintenance from tyres to maximise their operating capabilities.

The Uptis – which uses composite materials to enable it to bear the car's weight at road-going speeds – eliminates punctures, blow-outs and the need to regularly check pressure.

With the high expected utilisation factors of future fleet cars, the company sees maintenance-free tyres as a crucial component in an autonomous driving future.

The Uptis – which stands for ‘Unique Puncture-proof Tire System’ – will face its first real-world testing on a fleet of Chevrolet Bolt electric cars in Michigan, following an arrangement with longterm customer General Motors.

a puncture-proof tyre rolling over stones

‘Uptis demonstrates that Michelin's vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream,’ said Florent Menegaux, chief executive officer for Michelin Group.

‘Through work with strategic partners like GM, who share our ambitions for transforming mobility, we can seize the future today.’

Michelin – which says the product is an illustration of its R&D strategy for airless, connected, 3D-printed and 100% sustainable tyres – hopes to put the Uptis into full production in 2024