Air-free tires are not a new idea in the world of wheelchairs and scooters as foam-filled and solid-rubber tires have been available as options. Solid tires are extremely durable and the worry to maintain optimal tire pressure or even a puncture is not there. Despite this, there are a number of people who prefer conventional pneumatic tires due to the better ride that a solid tire could never offer. What if there was an option that allowed a wheelchair/scooter user to have the ride of a pneumatic tire with the benefits of a solid tire? Bridgestone has recently demonstrated their solution with their Air-Free tire. More info after the jump.
The tire is held up with a series of thermoplastic spokes that give the wheel structure and support the weight of the wheelchair/scooter while still providing enough cushioning to soak up light impacts just like an air-filled tire. The spokes themselves are made from recyclable plastics so there is very little impact to the environment. The prototype tires, shown in the above clip, currently have exposed spokes to show off the design and technology, also provide an aesthetic quality: perhaps custom-colored spokes are in the works?