Renowned passenger car tire manufacturer Hankook, a South Korean company, teamed up with Seoul National University and Harvard engineers to create extraordinary convertible tires based on origami-like technology.
It took almost 10 years to develop a fully functional set of these tires. The result is wheels that are capable of varying diameters from 46 to 80 cm and withstand a load comparable to the weight of a full-size car.
The wheels are a three-layer construction based on a thick flexible composite membrane, which acts on the principle of one of the origami figures – “water bomb”. To increase the strength and durability of the structure, laser-cut non-folding panels alternate with aluminum inserts, which give the membrane a stiffness.
In the initial state, the wheels fold to the minimum diameter, but during horizontal compression they open up to their maximum size, while the internal locking plates give the structure the rigidity necessary for operation.