Goodyear invents car tyres that inflate themselves

Plus Google's automated car crashes, a James Bond car exhibition and other Motoring news.
Google's self-driving car is still susceptible to human error. Courtesy of Google
Google's self-driving car is still susceptible to human error. Courtesy of Google

Tyres inflate themselves

Goodyear has developed a self-inflating tyre that keeps track of inflation levels and adds air as necessary.

The novel invention will increase safety by not allowing tyres to fall to low levels; eliminate the need for tyre pressure monitoring systems; and save on fuel, as underinflated tyres can decrease fuel economy by up to 3.3 per cent.

Goodyear says its air maintenance technology (AMT) will enable tyres to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps or electronics.

All components of the AMT system, including the miniaturised pump, will be in the tyre.

"While the technology is complex, the idea behind the system is relatively simple and powered by the tyre itself as it rolls down the road," said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer.

"A tyre that can maintain its own inflation is something drivers have wanted for many years. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging."

The company did not say when the technology would be available.


Humans, robots aren't perfect: Google's automated car crashes

One of Google's self-driving cars was involved in a minor traffic accident earlier this month near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, but the company insists it wasn't the technology's fault.

The automated Prius, which is outfitted with radar, GPS and other technology to allow it to drive on its own, was photographed after it had allegedly rear-ended another Prius - this one of the human-driven variety. The photo was sent to the car website Jalopnik; the accident apparently involved five vehicles, and no one was injured.

But Google insists the accident occurred while one of its employees was driving its car; in a statement to the Mountain View Voice newspaper, the company said: "We regret that a Google driver recently caused a minor accident, and we're grateful that no one was hurt ... safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car."

Google keeps a human in the driver's seat of its autonomous cars for emergency situations, whether the car is driving itself or not.


Biggest Bond car exhibition

The largest exhibition of James Bond vehicles ever displayed will go on show next year to mark the 50th year of the Bond franchise.

Beaulieu National Motor Museum in Hampshire, England, and EON Productions unveiled the plans that will see numerous classic Bond cars displayed at Empire Presents Big Screen at the motor museum from January until December 2012.

The exhibition at Big Screen - an Empire movie magazine event that allows film fans the chance to get up close to the movie world - includes the 2008 Aston Martin DBS from Quantum of Solace, the 2002 Jaguar XKR with SFX weapons from Die Another Day, the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 from Goldeneye and the 1937 Phantom lll Rolls-Royce from Goldfinger.

These are just a small selection of the 50 vehicles that will be on display at the motor museum.

Beaulieu's commercial director, Stephen Munn, said: "After the success of the first Bond cars exhibition staged here in 2001, we are delighted to be bringing together the world's largest collection of Bond vehicles."

Next year also marks the 40th anniversary of the museum, so it is fitting that it will be hosting a the exhibition marking 50 years since the first James Bond film.


Rolls-Royce to double bespoke car service due to high demand

Rolls-Royce is to expand its bespoke operations, doubling its staff by the end of this year.

There will be a surge in team members, including designers, engineers and project management staff at its base in Goodwood, England, taking the total number of staff to more than 50.

The car maker has seen a growing demand from customers for personalised features - and it's not just the design and development of car parts, as vehicles can be tailored to suit a customer's lifestyle. For example, Rolls-Royce recently produced picnic sets to match a car's interior.

"The ability to bespoke one's vehicle has always been at the heart of Rolls-Royce, so it is encouraging to see that after more than 100 years at the very pinnacle of the automotive world, our bespoke services are still very much in demand from customers all over the world today," says sales and marketing director Jolyon Nash.

Visit to see a bespoke car.


Aptera raises US$2m but will refund deposits for electric car

Aptera, the company behind the three-wheeled 2e vehicle, raised US$2.25 million (Dh8.3m) towards starting production of the much-anticipated car last month but is refunding reservation deposits. In an email to customers, the company said it will refund deposits paid for the ultra-aerodynamic electric vehicle (and planned hybrid version).

"Our path to production has been longer than anticipated, which has complicated our reservation administration to the point that we have decided to return your deposit," it read.

"[Our credit-card processing system] is designed for transactions to be completed in a six-month window. Since most of Aptera's deposits have been in reserve for more than six months, maintenance of the account has become problematic."

Those who put down a deposit will be added to a "VIP database" so they can be the first to be informed of when the vehicle will be available.

Published: August 19, 2011 04:00 AM


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