During the mid-2000s, NASA Glenn engineer Vivake Asnani worked with industry partner Goodyear to develop the Spring Tire, an airless compliant tire that consists of several hundred coiled steel wires woven into a flexible mesh, giving the tires the ability to support high loads while also conforming to the terrain.
The Spring Tire has been proven to generate very good traction and durability in soft sand and on rocks. This innovation led to an R&D 100 Award for Top Inventions of the Year.
The game changing material that dramatically advanced the development of spring tires was nickel titanium, a shape memory alloy with amazing capabilities as explained by Santo Padula.
They have created a nearly invincible tyre made of woven-mesh metal that “remembers” its ideal shape and immediately springs back into form after taking a beating.Engineer Colin Creager and his colleagues initially built a woven-mesh wheel made out of spring steel.read more (nasa)
It gripped soft sand well and supported a lot of weight, yet kept hitting a major snag. Recently, engineers and materials scientists have been testing a spinoff spring tire version that would work on cars and trucks on Earth. After attaching the tire to a vehicle, NASA scientists drove it on gravel and rocky surfaces.