Futuristic Ride Rocks and Rolls on Two Wheels
CREDIT: University of Adelaide
Two wheels could someday replace four among some cars parked on city streets, if engineers can figure out the balancing issues. One hint of such futuristic transportation comes from an electric diwheel that looks like a driver's seat and frame slung between two giant wheels.
The huge challenge for such vehicles has been creating a control scheme that prevents them from rocking back and forth in a nauseating manner for would-be drivers. But a solution has come from mechanical engineering students at the University of Adelaide in Australia, according to Fast Company. Their current battery-powered diwheel can coast along at 25 mph (40 km/h) and turn on a dime.
Specially-designed computer hardware and software help control the wheels while keeping the inner vehicle frame steady. Drivers use a joy-stick to maneuver the diwheel, and have a racing harness to keep them strapped in just in case.
The elegant control solution also allows daredevils to have a bit more fun. A handbrake can lock the inner frame to the outer wheels if drivers want the "gerbiling" experience, and deft drivers can even move the diwheel about in an upside-down "inversion" mode.
This won't join the Segway on the streets of any city anytime soon as a futuristic personal transport. Still, such clever engineering work can pave the way for additional designs that may eventually lead to a full-fledged vehicle. After all, Segway's design has inspired General Motors to create its pod-like Electric Networked-Vehicle (EN-V) concept car.
The Australian creators of the diwheel also point to the vehicles of the Star Wars prequel "Attack of the Clones" as inspiration. That film featured a monowheel vehicle piloted by the villain General Grievous, as well as a Hailfire droid tank that resembles a missile-firing diwheel.
This story was provided by InnovationNewsDaily, a sister site to TechNewsDaily. You can follow InnovationNewsDaily senior writer Jeremy Hsu on Twitter @ScienceHsu. Follow InnovationNewsDaily on Twitter @News_Innovation, or on Facebook.