NASA has developed a new kind of tire that may be used on its future vehicles on the moon and Mars. The tire looks like chainmail, braided chains made out of a nickel-titanium alloy. This is a so-called shape memory alloy which makes the tire “remember” its original shape, very convenient on the rough surface of Mars (Curiosity’s Wheels Are Falling Apart).
According to the researchers at NASA’s Glenn research center, this tire should be the most robust tire ever developed. There is yet no information about when or if NASA will actually use these tires.
“for instance, the Glenn superelastic tire can be made to soften with increased deflection, reducing the amount of energy transferred to the vehicle during high reformative events,”
“in addition, the use of shape memory alloys in the form of radial stiffeners, as opposed to springs, provides, even more, load-carrying potential and improved design flexibility. this type of compliant tire would allow for increased travel speeds in off-road applications.”