While the everyday driver relies on a set of pneumatic tires to get from A to B, tire companies like Michelin are doing valuable research and development into airless tires because they don't go flat. Now, Polaris Industries, a snowmobile and ATV manufacturer, has unveiled the craziest off-roading vehicle for consumers with its Sportsman WV850 — an ATV whose airless TerrainArmor tires can take a .50-caliber round and keep going.
The Polaris ATV is designed after the same all-terrain vehicle Polaris rolled out to the military earlier this year. As such, it has an impressive 1,500-pound towing capacity and 3,500-pound winch, making it incredibly capable during work and emergencies. However, Polaris puts great stock in its tires, and hopes to see more consumer uptake in years to come. Originally designed by Wisconsin-based startup Resilient Technologies, the tires feature a durable honeycomb core bordered by a thick rubber tread. According to the Star Tribune, Resilient intended for the tires to be used in such consumer products as lawn mowers, but when Polaris acquired the company in April, 2012, it scaled the operation up for bigger applications.
Consumers under fire
Today, the WV850's tires can suffer a shot from a .50-caliber rifle and still travel 350 miles, and also drive 1,000 miles after running over a railroad spike. It will start at $14,999 beginning next month.
Polaris' TerrainArmor tires are joining a burgeoning field that already includes products like Michelin's Tweel design and Bridgestone's own puncture-proof tire. More concepts are surely on the way, in the hope that the next decade's drivers will never have to deal with flat tires again.