Graduate industrial designer Ackeem Ngwenya reinvents the wheel

Recent Royal College of Art graduate Ackeem Ngwenya has presented his concept for a shape-shifting wheel and tyre that can be adapted for poor road conditions.


Industrial designer Ackeem Ngwenya has designed a shape-shifting wheel and tyre with malleable properties which can be quickly adapted for poor road conditions.

Ngwenya, who graduated from the Royal College of Art last year, has revealed details of his Roadless design at the Design Indaba Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was one of eight Pecha Kucha speakers.



The wheel is a moveable mechanical structure that can be manipulated easily so that the stretchable tyre covering it is given a broader surface area. This makes the entire wheel and tyre more robust and able to withstand rocks and holes in the road.

The tyre is composed of two separate rubberised skins. “There is a flexible base material which stretches and a rigid outer,” says Ngwenya.



Ngwenya has also found that the internal structure can be retrofitted into existing tyres meaning that potentially there would be no need to inflate it and punctures wouldn’t happen.

He is now looking to take the project further and wants to build a design team consisting of several designers and an engineer.

It hasn’t yet been tested on a vehicle and there is still product development to be done so Ngwenya is also looking to raise more funds.

To get to this stage he has already overcome several hurdles and had to turn to crowd-funding to pay for his RCA tuition fees and to take his project forward when he was faced with the prospect of not being able to graduate.

He is also looking at other potential applications for Roadless. “I’d like to work with the guys working on the Mars Rover. I remember they had trouble when it got stuck in the sand but my wheel would solve that problem.”

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  • Kamaljit Singh February 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Interesting, but can’t see this working on an everyday cars. The Tyre seems to remain in the same position.

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