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How Retractable-stud Snow Tires Work

        Auto | Wheels

Push-button Studs ... Or Not
With a press of a button, the driver can bring out the studs to improve the grip of the tire.
With a press of a button, the driver can bring out the studs to improve the grip of the tire.
(Courtesy of Nokian Tyres)

The tires Nokian showed in the video were based on the company's Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV studded winter tires. But instead of having stationary studs that bite into whatever they come across -- snow, ice, pavement, flesh -- there are studs embedded in the rubber flush with its surface. When sleet gets real, the driver can push a button that pops just the hard metal pin in the middle of the stud out of its jacket. All the studs on all four tires are deployed at the same time.

Or they would be, if you could get a set of these non-studded studded tires. Nokian's web site says, "The unique stud concept may indeed become a reality one day." The company also won't share the mechanism used for popping the studs out of the rubber, so it's safe to assume that there are teams of mice doped up on Dramamine (to deal with the spinning of the tire) trained to push out the center pins when the computer sends them a signal to do so.

If you're not cool with mice being put to work in this way, or if you have actual winter tire needs beyond fanciful spy-worthy technologies that never make it to real roads, there are of course plenty of other options. There's always that old convertible winter tire standby -- chains. These can be deployed as needed, but not at the push of a button, and not with any help from trained mice. Oh, if only.


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