For more than 50 years, NASA has channeled its advanced technology into everyday products. The space agency’s materials have crept into everything from memory foam mattresses to smartphones and digital camera image sensors. So it was only a matter of time before the groundbreaking tire technology was added to the long list of so-called NASA spinoffs. A startup called Smart uses the tire technology airless shape memory alloy (SMA) – originally built for lunar and Mars rovers – for a bicycle tire called Metl.
Composed of interconnected springs that do not require inflation, Smart claims that the super-elastic tires are built like titanium to withstand robust terrain without going flat. It mainly hopes that the prospect of a puncture-free ride can entice environmentally conscious cyclists who are sick of throwing rubber pipes in the trash.
As a NASA-approved startup, Smart has worked closely with the space agency on the Metl deck, which will make it to consumers early next year. It already has a partner in Spin, the Ford-owned e-scooter parts company. Smart, who is a co-founder of Survivor: Fiji Master Earl Cole and blockchain engineer Brian Yennie, also envision their tires taking care of cars.