Material scientists have pioneered a high-tech way to roll.
NASA engineers have invented a new type of tire made from stoichiometric nickel titanium, a material which doesn’t deform.
Designed for use on extraterrestrial terrain, these tires may be found on NASA’s next generation of space-bound exploration vehicles.
In the video above, you can see the new tire get outfitted to a lunar rover, deforming to overcome obstacles of increasing sharpness while transferring less shock than the standard tire following behind it.
In most materials, deformation occurs when the bonds between the individual atoms are stretched beyond their limits, forcing a permanent change to the material’s overall shape. This new metallic material rearranges on an atomic level instead of stretching, allowing for 30 times the deformation of standard tires.
Though this tire has not been designed for use on Earth, the race to invent a practical alternative to contemporary rubber tires may soon take a surprising leap forward, thanks to our understanding of materials science and molecular bonds.