Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation today unveiled a new snow chain-integrated tire technology to make it easier to stay safe in winter driving conditions.Snow chain-integrated tire technology uses shape memory alloy modules that are hidden inside the wheel and tire.These modules protrude to act as a ‘snow chain’ when an electrical signal is received.
Unlike traditional snow chains that are complicated to install and remove, this technology will automatically deploy shape memory alloy snow chains at the push of a button, helping to improve safety in snowy conditions.The snow chain-integrated tire technology consists of a wheel and tire assembly that feature radial grooves at regular intervals, like a pizza, with modules made of shape memory alloy inserted into these channels.
This technology takes advantage of the shape memory alloy’s ability to return to its original shape when an electric current is applied. During normal driving, the shape memory alloy located inside the wheel is compressed into the shape of the letter ‘L’ and does not contact the road surface.
When the driver activates the function, an electric current is applied, causing the shape memory alloy to revert to its original profile; the material forms a ‘J’ shape, pushing the module out of the tire to make contact with the surface, improving grip, stability and safety on snowy roads.
If the surface of the tire is worn down to the height of the module in normal driving mode due to severe tire wear, drivers can easily recognize this degradation so as not miss the tire replacement cycle.The technology is patent-pending in both South Korea and the U.S. Hyundai Motor and Kia plan to consider mass production of the tires after further technological development, durability and performance tests and regulation reviews.