Shape-shifting tire mimics rubber track

Reinforced sidewall construction achieves 167 percent better lateral stability so it can flatten under heavy loads

Whether farmers prefer round rubber pneumatic tires or flat solid rubber tracks depends largely on their soil and precipitation.

The industry offers a comprehensive lineup of tires and tracks to keep everyone happy. After all, there is no in between or compromise. Or is there? Well, maybe there is.

Mitas, the little known tire company from the Czech Republic, is developing a round rubber pneumatic tire that flattens out under load so the bottom surface takes on the shape and characteristics of a flat rubber track.

The PneuTrac’s footprint is 53 percent larger than that of a standard tire, and its lateral stability is 167 percent higher than that of a standard tire, according to Greg Payne, technical service manager with Mitas at its North American head office and manufacturing plant in Charles City, Iowa.

“Instead of the sidewalls bulging out like you see on a standard IF (increased flexion) or VF (very high flexion) radial at low pressure, the sidewalls of the PneuTrac actually concave or deflect to the inside of the tire,” Payne said.

“The tire looks like it almost collapses on itself. It completely elongates the tread so the imprint is more like a track than a tire. If you’re used to seeing radial imprints become wider at low pressure, these imprints become longer. That’s why we compare it to a track.

“The tire is re-enforced in the centre section to give it rigidity so it will not sway sideways like any conventional sidewall will do. That’s how we achieve 167 percent better lateral stability.”

Mitas says the PneuTrac’s better traction means lower slippage, lower operational costs and less soil compaction. Its experience shows that normal transit speeds are possible without stops to adjust tire pressures.

The Mitas research and development department in Europe is testing PneuTrac tires in 18, 28 and 38 inch sizes. All PneuTrac tires will fit existing rims.

“We’ve built quite a few prototypes for them, but it’s still in the testing stage. I’d say the final release won’t be for at least two to three years,” said Payne.


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