Non-pneumatic tires (or NPTs in Pentagon acronymia) look like an instant improvement to the mobility of wheeled vehicles.  Who wants to have a flat tire while getting shot at or while chasing down some bad guys?  The non-pneumatic tires developed by Resilient Technologies look like they can take a beating and keep on driving on.

Resiliant NPT

This tire looks like it can run over anything.  I’ve found postings and articles about the Resilient Technologies NPT from as far back as 2006.  The Resilient Technologies website notes a DoD grant to fund a four year study started  in 2008 but is absolutely silent as to how things have gone.

Cool New Army Tire Technology

It sure looks cool but the video shows nothing that would make you bet your life on it or the lives of your soldiers.  Let’s see you pound it and bounce it in mud that is deeper than the axel – the old Jeeps could do that easy.  And what happens if you are fighting in the winter and the mud and muck of the day becomes ice at night?  I’ve seen armor units that couldn’t move in the morning because they didn’t get their tracks cleaned out the night before.

 Resiliant NPT Side View

This is all the crunch displayed on the web.  Looks promising but my kidneys are still working.

Resiliant NPT

I know the desert is smooth (at least in most peoples minds) but come on, we drive over broken stuff – a lot of which we broke on purpose – so let’s see some serious tub thumping.

What happens when a vehicle mounting these tires operates in sand?  If you make a quick turn in sand won’t the honeycomb scoop up lots of that sand?  This maneuver might make great Rat Patrol rooster tails but who needs the extra signature and I’d worry a bit about balance and feed back on the steering.

It is good that these non-pneumatic tires are being studied.  They look cool.  The concept is very inviting.  But the silence is deafening.  They raise lots of questions.  Why not just buy a few thousand of these and equip a deployed unit with them.  If Snuffy likes them, he’ll let us know – if not, we’ll know that too.  For me, I’d jam these NPT things inside my pneumatic tires and have the run flat tire from hell.  Cause that’s where I’m driving.

Read more at Scientific American