American manufacturer Goodyear has unveiled its latest ‘visionary’ tyre design which suspends spherical orbs below a vehicle through a special magnetic levitation system.

Presented at the Geneva International Moto Show this month, the new ‘Eagle-360’ concept tyres are particularly designed with driverless cars in mind. The company claims that the tyres would allow for a smoother driving experience for passengers and offer greater manoeuvrability, making it easier to move quickly in any direction and to park in tight spaces.

Each sphere-shaped tyre would float underneath the car suspended by magnetic fields, using a similar technology to magnetic levitation (maglev) systems beginning to emerge in Asian train networks [PDF].

Other features proposed by Goodyear include embedded sensor connectivity, to provide real-time information on tyre pressure and tread wear, and ‘biomimicry’ – a tailored 3D-printed tread inspired by the pattern of ‘brain coral’, which adapts to the driver’s habits and changing weather conditions – stiffening in dry conditions and softening when wet.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 13.09.59Goodyear argued that the new multi-directional design would improve passenger safety, by allowing the car to move in any direction and avoid obstacles at a faster rate than conventional vehicles. The built-in sensors could also allow for immediate detection and negotiation of black ice.

“By steadily reducing the driver interaction and intervention in self-driving vehicles, tyres will play an even more important role as the primary link to the road,” commented Goodyear senior vice president Joseph Zekoski.

Zekoski added that the Eagle-360 concept tyres would contribute to this future by providing both a creative platform to “push the boundaries of conventional thinking,” and a test bed for next-generation technologies.

Other innovative designs revealed at the Geneva Motor Show included a self-charging driverless car architected by Foster and Partners and Japanese automaker Nissan, and the new £1.9 million Bugatti Chiron hypercar, described as the ‘world’s fastest car’.