NASA has developed a new kind of airless mesh tyre that can wander through rough terrain and still manage to return to its original shape. Why did it do it you ask? Well, NASA's one-ton, Mars Curiosity robot had faced huge problems when small rocks started ripping large holes in its tyres and this just after a year of cautious driving at less than 1 kmph. NASA engineers therefore, went back to the drawing board to, well, reinvent the wheel!
The design, is rooted at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Engineer Colin Creager and his colleagues built a wheel called a spring tyre which would provide grip on soft sand and also supported a lot of weight that gripped soft sand well and supported a lot of weight but the dents were the biggest snag and that's when nickel titanium came into the picture.
The molecules in this alloy do not adopt the new shape, but rather retains the wheel shape and the mesh moves right back to its original form. NASA hasn't mentioned any cost but we assume it's a monstrous amount and one that we'll probably never know.
Now, we don't know yet, if this tyre will be part of NASA's mission to Mars in 2020 but we are sure there's a lot of testing it has to undergo and we can't wait to know more about it.