New electric diwheel hints at future of city transportation

Jun 13, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a bit of technical wizardry, students from the University of Adelaide, Australia, have devised and built an electric diwheel, that with modification, could possibly solve inner city transportation problems. The team, comprised of 14 mechanical engineering students, has taken the idea of a diwheel and quite literally, turned it on its head, and in the process have created a vehicle that could be used to safely transport people around; all with a minimum amount of energy.

The diwheel is a vehicle with two wheels on the same axle, i.e. in parallel, like the back two wheels on a , and works by mounting a cabin of sorts for a driver between them. In this case, the is electricity stored in a battery. Diwheels have been created before, and have of course been seen in sci-fi movies; what’s new here is the stability control. Traditionally, the problem with creating a diwheel is in keeping the driver from gerbiling, an effect that comes about when you consider how a diwheel is constructed. If you simply connect the cab to the axle, the driver would spin around as the wheels turn, a truly nauseating experience to be sure. Thus diwheels are constructed by using a frame that allows the axle to spin independent of the rider, which works great once you’re moving at an even speed. Unfortunately, though, when stopping or starting, the frame tends to ride up a bit, or trail behind causing a rocking motion for the rider, which again, would not be very pleasant after a while. This is where the cleverness of the team came in; they use specially designed computer hardware and software to control the wheels and the movement of the frame, which they manipulate using a joy-stick; the result is a smooth stable ride from beginning to end.

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This project by students in the School of Mechanical Engineering, the University of Adelaide involved the construction of a human operated diwheel called EDWARD.

Though only capable of a top speed of 40km/hr and moving up inclines no higher than 12 degrees, the Electric Diwheel with Active Rotation Damping (EDWARD) is still very much a peek into what could be the future of city driving. Because early transportation designers didn’t have to figure in the amount of space a vehicle took up on the road, cars grew large right from the start, evolving into the behemoths we now have. The biwheel is a way of going back to the beginning and starting from scratch; where one vehicle doesn’t take up much more room than one person. The EDWARD shows it can be done, though of course in a more refined manner. In fact, after watching a video demonstration of the new diwheel in action, it’s very easy to imagine a similar vehicle with a protective covering, air filled tires, more power and an improved center of gravity; one that could be recharged wherever it’s been parked. The result; more lanes on existing roads, more parking space, elimination of smog and perhaps best of all, quiet city streets.

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More information: EDWARD - Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping

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User comments : 20

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CarolinaScotsman
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2011
And I'm sure someone will imagine it "just a little bit bigger" to have more than one passenger, then carry more cargo, etc. Soon, it too could grow to be just as annoying as any other vehicle.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2011
Good engineering project.

Pointless otherwise.
SteveL
5 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2011
What about the traffic and crash safety features required for other powered vehicles? Where is the roof & doors for blocking the rain, the heat from the sun or for a semblence of security? No AC. Looks like it would be hard for an elderly person to get in and out.

That said this has a significant "neat" factor and much like the Segway could see some limited success.
NotAsleep
4 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2011
I'm picturing this vehicle trying to make a quick stop from 40 km/hr to avoid a pedestrian and the driver rolling head over heels right over the unsuspecting pedestrian. Why not add small wheels forward and aft for that sort of stabilization?

Two wheels on one axis doesn't make any sense apart from the already-mentioned "neat" factor
NameIsNotNick
5 / 5 (3) Jun 13, 2011
Good engineering project.
Pointless otherwise.

Oh I don't know... amazingly nimble, and with balloon tyres it could be just the ticket for scooting around on Mars' surface.
SteveL
not rated yet Jun 13, 2011
Good engineering project.
Pointless otherwise.

Oh I don't know... amazingly nimble, and with balloon tyres it could be just the ticket for scooting around on Mars' surface.

I volunteer. Send me to Mars and I'll check it out for ya. But I think the sand would kill the bearings in short order.
Physmet
4.5 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2011
After watching the video, I'm thinking it'd make for a great amusement park attraction. It must have been a blast working on it!
krundoloss
4.5 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2011
Looks like the downfall of this type of device is the need to use the counterweight of the rider/engine for torque. This greatly limits acceleration and breaking. Just imagine when you slam on brakes, the thing just keeps rolling, with nothing to stop it other than the counterweight rolling off-center. I dont think this is practical at all, but it is neat.
Cave_Man
not rated yet Jun 13, 2011
I can just see someone spinning around inside the thing while its going 60mph down the highway. It also looks like its a little top heavy or something like if you took too sharp a turn at 25mph you would tip sideways and really get hurt and break the thing.

The whole rider inversion thing could be solved with 2 free spinning wheel in the center of the wheels, one from one back but connected to the chassis not the wheel assembly.
Then when you brake it will shift the ballast (driver) weight and momentum onto the front wheel and onto the back one when accelerating, i dont see two free spinning wheels adding very much drag especially when you could stabilze them with suspension and make it so only one is on the ground for any particular operation. Only problem would be braking while turning in which case a stationary wheel would cause uneven deceleration and abnormal steering this could prob be fixed with swivel casters on those 2 wheels.
FenderFennec
5 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2011
As the article says, more than once, no one considers this a "finished" vehicle--it could be a starting point for a new type of vehicle, but not as is.
ffrankblu
not rated yet Jun 13, 2011
Good engineering project.
Pointless otherwise.

Oh I don't know... amazingly nimble, and with balloon tyres it could be just the ticket for scooting around on Mars' surface.

I volunteer. Send me to Mars and I'll check it out for ya. But I think the sand would kill the bearings in short order.

you would use sealed bearings,lol
ettinone
5 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2011
I am unfortunately reminded of Mr. Garrison's transportation device from an old South Park episode...
jimbo92107
1 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2011
Make a big Segway, remove the handle, replace the foot rest with a chair.

I would call this imaginative if it were not so obviously derivative.
Yee_boi
Jun 13, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
CocoaJackson
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2011
Ok, interesting. I would be a early uptaker.

But you aren't selling it by hanging upside down, not everyone fits into the "risk takers" category.

I recommend you manage your online profile better.
I was going to post it on Twitter and Facebook.
But the "risk takers" issue stopped me, I don't want to look like a chump : / [ and believe, me not everyone gets it! ]

All the best, just have a talk to some multi media mates.
maxcypher
5 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2011
This a prototype created by students having fun. The comments on this site can be so random and pointless.
MarkyMark
not rated yet Jun 14, 2011
What about the traffic and crash safety features required for other powered vehicles? Where is the roof & doors for blocking the rain, the heat from the sun or for a semblence of security? No AC. Looks like it would be hard for an elderly person to get in and out.

That said this has a significant "neat" factor and much like the Segway could see some limited success.

Multiple good points made by someone who didnt read the article Bravo!

In explination it is stated that this is not a finished vehicle just a concept tester for a two wheeled inner city vehicle. It is also stated its top speed is 40 so the comment made by cave_man about it traveling at 60 is already answered as it cant travel that fast. Finally concerning the quoted critical points that it has no shelter from weather no safety features etc. Once again its not an end product, just a prototype for a new way of looking at inner city transport that can one day have an enclosed cabin and some safety feature.
SteveL
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2011
@MarkyMark

You assume too much. Yes, I read the article and highlighted some of the issues they stated. You have an issue with that?

There is a reason that cars have evolved they way they have. To have such a vehicle meet the same standards as the modern car it will also become a larger and heavier vehicle. Obviously this can't become a car and it won't replace one either, except possibly in niche markets. It's the expectation of Bob Yirka, the author, that these could replace cars. Not mine.
_nigmatic10
not rated yet Jun 19, 2011
looks like nothing more than a modified electric wheel chair.
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2011
@MarkyMark

You assume too much. Yes, I read the article and highlighted some of the issues they stated. You have an issue with that?

There is a reason that cars have evolved they way they have. To have such a vehicle meet the same standards as the modern car it will also become a larger and heavier vehicle. Obviously this can't become a car and it won't replace one either, except possibly in niche markets. It's the expectation of Bob Yirka, the author, that these could replace cars. Not mine.


Incorrect, your basic assumption is comparing it to a car instead of a motorcycle
Norezar
not rated yet Jun 19, 2011
No matter what, you know this is absurdly fun to ride around in.

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