At first sight you’ll recognise the wheel above as the Michelin Tweel. The Tweel was a concept wheel which used flexible spokes which deform to absorb shock. It does not need air pressure. It also had the ability to be “tuned” to have different vertical and lateral stiffness. This way, vertical stiffness can be reduced to improve ride comfort while lateral stiffness can be increased to improve handling and cornering ability. This allows one tweel to have the best of both worlds!
The Tweel has undergone more R&D and will in the future be used as a lunar wheel for NASA moon rovers. Michelin already supplies NASA with tyres for its space shuttles for more than 20 years now. According to Michelin, the new Tweel-based lunar wheel maintains flexibility and constant ground contact pressure even at very low temperatures to enable moon rovers to navigate loose soil and lunar craters with ease. It has a lower mass with a higher load capacity that is 3.3 times more efficient than the original Apollo Lunar Rover wheels.