#1744: GlassHopper

Given that no-one likes having to change a tyre on their vehicle, today’s invention is a way to avoid punctures in the first place.

A camera is located under the front wing, which detects objects in the path of the wheel. This sends a signal to the wheel’s supension, saying, in effect “raise the wheel very briefly, to step over this.”

The car therefore runs on ony three wheels for a moment, but the raising and lowering would be done so smoothly, under electronic control and with awareness of the current rotation rate, that the ride would remain smooth (or at least smoother than without this system).

At very low speed, the raising of a wheel might require a sharp expansion then contraction of the local shock absorber to rock the chassis upwards for long enough to clear any debris.

A similar system would apply to all of the wheels. This might require that, if facing say four broken bottles simultaneously, a decision as to which was the highest priority to miss might have to be taken.


  1. A variant on this might work well for airliners and avoid a repeat of the Concorde disaster -where the fuel tank was penetrated by a piece of runway debris.

  2. Whilst running along a road in the low, wintry light, I recently noticed that even small pebbles cast long, sharp shadows. This suggests the use of forward facing, low-level illumination and a downward-looking camera to better detect objects on the relatively flat road surface.

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