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Goodyear turns the wheel into a sphere

It’s an old cliché, but someone has finally reinvented the wheel.

Goodyear has designed a spherical tire that suggests its engineering department has hired BB-8 from Star Wars.

The Eagle 360s are equipped with an internal structure that magnetically levitates an electric vehicle above them, which eliminates the need for a mechanically-connected drivetrain or suspension and allows it move in any direction.

Developed with autonomous cars in mind, embedded sensors constantly monitor the condition of the tires and the road surface and send this information to both the vehicle and others around it. The tires are also made from an absorbent rubber that naturally stiffens in dry conditions and softens up in the wet to optimize grip.

Of course, they’re only a concept at this time, and flying cars, even of the levitating type, probably won’t be gliding into showrooms anytime soon. However, Goodyear has also incorporated much of the sensing technology from the Eagle 360s into a conventionally-shaped tire called the IntelliGrip that is intended to give driverless cars get a better feel for the road.