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1. (WO2018140248) MULTI-CHAMBERED WHEEL ASSEMBLY FOR RAPID TIRE INFLATION
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CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1 . A multi-chambered wheel assembly comprising:

a wheel rim;

a tire mounted on the wheel rim, the tire and the wheel rim defining an interior chamber; a divider wall disposed in the interior chamber, the divider wall defining a fill chamber and a gas cavity;

a gas valve communicated with the gas cavity, the gas valve configured to allow pressurized gas to be introduced into the gas cavity; and

a fill valve communicated with the fill chamber, the fill valve configured to allow fill material to be introduced into the fill chamber.

2. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 1 , wherein the fill chamber is at least partially filled with a non-compressible fill material.

3. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 2, wherein the non-compressible fill material comprises a foam.

4. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 2, wherein the non-compressible fill material comprises water.

5. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 2, wherein the non-compressible fill material comprises solid pellets.

6. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 2, wherein the fill chamber, being at least partially filled with the non-compressible fill material, includes a maximum fill chamber height that extends beyond the wheel rim in a radial direction such that the wheel assembly may include run-flat capabilities.

7. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 1 , wherein the divider wall comprises an inner tube sized for a tire smaller than the tire mounted on the wheel rim.

8. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 1 , wherein the divider wall is substantially rigid.

9. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 1 , in combination with an onboard inflation system for a vehicle having a plurality of multi-chambered wheel assemblies.

10. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 9, wherein the onboard inflation system comprises at least one compressor configured to pump gas into the gas cavity of at least one of the plurality of multi-chambered wheel assemblies.

1 1 . The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 10, wherein a release valve is configured to vent gas out of the gas cavity so that operating pressure in the gas cavity of each of the plurality of multi-chambered wheel assemblies can be lowered.

12. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 10, wherein the onboard inflation system further comprises a controller configured to selectively control the at least one compressor to repeatedly change operating pressure in the gas cavity of at least one of the plurality of multi-chambered wheel assemblies between a lower inflation pressure and a higher inflation pressure.

13. The multi-chambered wheel assembly of claim 12, wherein the controller is further configured to selectively control the gas valve of at least one of the plurality of multi-chambered wheel assemblies.

14. A method of controlling inflation pressures of a plurality of tires mounted on a plurality of wheel rims of a vehicle, each tire being mounted on a respective wheel rim to define a wheel assembly, the method comprising:

(a) providing each wheel assembly with a fill chamber disposed in an interior chamber, each interior chamber defined by the tire and wheel rim of each respective wheel assembly, and a gas cavity operatively located in the interior chamber adjacent a tread portion of the tire;

(b) providing a compressor configured to introduce gas into the gas cavity of each respective wheel assembly;

(c) at least partially filling each fill chamber with a non-compressible fill material through a respective fill valve;

(d) providing each gas cavity with an initial inflation pressure greater than atmospheric pressure; and

(e) selectively operating the compressor to increase pressure in the gas cavity of each respective wheel assembly by pumping gas into the gas cavity through a gas valve, thereby more rapidly providing an increased pressure than the compressor could do if each respective wheel assembly did not include the interior chamber partially occupied by the fill chamber at least partially filled with the non-compressible fill material.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising:

selectively venting at least one wheel assembly to allow gas to escape the associated gas cavity to decrease pressure in the gas cavity, thereby more rapidly providing a decreased pressure than possible if each respective wheel assembly did not include the interior chamber partially occupied by the fill chamber at least partially filled with the non-compressible fill material.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein:

step (e) is performed by an automatic controller in response to an operator input.

17. The method of claim 14, further comprising:

removing at least some of the non-compressible fill material from the fill chamber through the fill valve of the wheel assembly; and

removing the tire from the wheel rim for service or replacement.