Equipping tires for snow could be as easy as pushing a button in the future, with a new technology developed by Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation, according to a press release.
The patent-pending technology uses shape memory alloy modules inside the wheel and tire. The modules protrude and act like a ‘snow chain’ when receiving an electrical signal.
“Unlike traditional snow chains that are complicated to install and remove, this technology will automatically deploy shape memory alloy snow chains at the push of a button, helping to improve safety in snowy conditions,” according to the release.
The modules are inserted in groves at regular intervals on the tire, the release said. During everyday driving, the alloy is compressed into the shape of the letter ‘L’ below the tire surface. When the function is activated, the alloy forms a ‘J’ shape and pushes the module out of the tire “to make contact with the surface, improving grip, stability and safety on snowy roads.”
If the tire’s surface wears to the module’s height in normal driving mode, the driver will know the tire needs replacing.
“This innovation, which will hopefully be introduced on Hyundai and Kia vehicles someday, reflects our commitment to turning advanced technologies into real-world solutions that benefit customers,” said Joon Mo Park, Head of Advanced Chassis Development Team. “We will continue to develop technologies that enhance safety and convenience of our vehicles and bring value to our customers.”
The technology is patent-pending in both South Korea and the U.S. Further technological development, durability and performance tests and regulation reviews are needed before production, the release said.
Hyundai and Kia also recently announced an application for patents on a universal wheel drive system (Uni Wheel). The new vehicle cabin structure frees up more interior space than conventional drive systems.
Image courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation