Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Canada Japan Transportation News Technology Build Hardware Science

Canadian Man Invented a Wheel That Can Make Cars Move Sideways (nationalpost.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: Canadian man William Liddiard invented a wheel that allows vehicles to move sideways. "True all-way drive for anything with wheels," Liddiard says in an online writeup for his successful prototype of "omni-directional" wheels. They consist of a specialized roller-equipped rim that can move horizontally and a tire that is rounded like a donut. "This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels," wrote Liddiard. "Now you can drive in all directions, and turn on the spot, when needed." His demo video titled "you've never seen a car do this...," has received more than 1.1 million views since it was uploaded on May 10th. The wheels are a "proof of concept" prototype right now, but Liddiard says the design would allow them to be made as durable and safe as standard automotive wheels. Omni-directional wheels are nothing new, though they are typically only used in wheelchairs, robotics and other small-scale applications. Honda Motor Co. debuted an omni-directional wheel at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, but it wasn't for a full-sized car -- it was for a Segway-style mobility device. "My wheel can hold ten times more than the other [wheels], while maintaining speed," Liddiard told Postmedia in an interview earlier this year. He's currently trying to sell his invention to a major tire or automotive company.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Canadian Man Invented a Wheel That Can Make Cars Move Sideways

Comments Filter:
  • Nice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In a forklift, maybe. In a car? Never.

    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Informative)

      by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:32AM (#52432569)

      A forklift you say? [youtube.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It is called a Mecanum wheels [wikipedia.org]
        Originally invented by Bengt Ilon of Mecanum AB.
        The patent was then bought by the US Navy and they have licensed the technology to Airtrax among others.

        William Liddiards wheel appears to me to be sufficiently different to not infringe on that patent but it looks very close to Hondas Omni Traction Drive System with an extra rubber ring on it.

        • Let's stop calling it omni-directional. That term is not very descriptive. This is a holonomic drive which is commonly used in robotics because it's a lot easier to control a robot where the controllable degrees of freedom are equal to the total degrees of freedom.

    • There was another idea back in the 1950s that might be resurrected, if the car companies hadn't killed the spare tire.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
      • if the car companies hadn't killed the spare tire.

        What? Killed is a bit strong - it's probably less than 1/3 of cars that are supplied with a "space saver" or "inflation pack" alternative to a spare tyre. Which is hardly "killed".

        Though, to be honest, I do choose a vehicle with a full-size spare wheel and tyre over one with a "space saver" or alternative. Even when hiring vehicles.

        I wonder if vehicles supplied with "space savers" can actually accommodate a full-size spare. I'll ask, next time the question

  • I want these on every car everywhere. Mandate it as a standard feature. Make it a legal requirement. Let's end the BS that is parallel parking forever.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Parallel parking isn't exactly science and replacing it not necessary. Staying on the road in corners at higher speeds, however, is.

      • Parallel parking isn't exactly science and replacing it not necessary.

        Parallel parking is already a solved problem. Backup-cameras (mandatory in all new cars in 2018) make parallel parking easy. Many new cars have an "auto-park" feature that makes it even easier. Even my wife can now parallel park.

        If you want a car that moves sideways, a better way to do it is to just make the steering pivot a full 90 degrees. Then you can still have robust tires with treads.

        • Parallel parking isn't exactly science and replacing it not necessary.

          Parallel parking is already a solved problem. Backup-cameras (mandatory in all new cars in 2018) make parallel parking easy.

          Knowing how to parallel park makes it easy.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            No amount of skill helps you when the idiots who parked in front of you and behind you while you were away left you a grand total of 2 cm to maneuver. A car that can go sideways will help a lot though.

        • Many new cars have an "auto-park" feature that makes it even easier. Even my wife can now parallel park.

          Technically, she knows how to get the car to parallel-park for her.

          • Technically, she knows how to get the car to parallel-park for her.

            The important thing is that I no longer have to get out of the car and switch to the driver's seat so I can park the car for her, especially when it is raining.

        • "If you want a car that moves sideways, a better way to do it is to just make the steering pivot a full 90cdegrees. "

          Given that you'd need this on all 4 wheels, it would probably be simpler to use some kind of droparm with castors mounted at 90 degrees to the drive wheels. The speed and distance requirements aren't onerous, although the contact pressures could be a bit high and if there's a high camber the drive power required could get awkward.

          kind of like wheel dollies, without the dolly.

      • I wonder what would happen if you spun the wheels in to the corner to increase traction.

        Or if the traction would vanish entirely once the tyre surface started moving sideways.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      ...except for any car that is actually on the road, considering the tires lack treads.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Since it is fairly popular to have a separate engine for every wheel on EV's it should be very simple/inexpensive to make cars with 4-wheel steering.
      Adding a mode that allows the car to rotate all wheels in the same direction would allow the car to drive diagonally into the parking slot without having to rely on odd tires and the solution would be simpler than the mechanical mess that current cars consists of.

    • Funny that it's called "parallel parking" when the cars are lined up serially...
    • by fisted ( 2295862 )

      Or you could just take a day (or preferrably a night) off and learn how to parallel park once and for all. Sheesh.

    • I take it that you never learned to parallel park? Tough shit on you - it's been a compulsory part of the driving test here for around a decade, which was in turn about a decade after I taught myself how to do it. It's not as if it's a difficult skill.

      If your motor skills and spatial comprehension are so poor that you really can't parallel park, then you really should be asking yourself if you're safe to drive at all.

  • Durability? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    That bendy-donut tire looks like it would wear out really quickly, stretching like that as it turns.

    I'd actually though of this sort of thing before, but threw out the idea as neat idea but impossible to build durably.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      On the other hand it might be able to wear-level better by choosing different patches of the tire to ride on. This looks like an idea waiting for materials science and manufacturing application thereof to catch up to it, though. Needs treads, too.

      • On the other hand it might be able to wear-level better by choosing different patches of the tire to ride on. This looks like an idea waiting for materials science and manufacturing application thereof to catch up to it, though. Needs treads, too.

        He does mention that this being a prototype and he not being some big corporation, he had to use OTS materials (and likely why he's tried to sell it to major tire companies with material resources).

        The ability to switch tread patterns combined with the omnidirectional movement capability could be very useful in off-road, all-terrain vehicles of all sorts, from sport-recreational to heavy construction/earth-moving equipment, rescue vehicles, and special military vehicles.

        Tractor-trailers with the ability to

  • Umm... No (Score:5, Informative)

    by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @07:41AM (#52432433)

    Unfortunately, if he thinks ' the design would allow them to be made as durable and safe as standard automotive wheels' them he has a nasty surprise coming.
    Of course technically he is probably partially correct - the rims would post no problem.

    However the tyres themselves? Not a chance, sorry.

    Standard modern tyres combine a lot of technology to make them work as well as they do in griping, and most of that technology basically results in them not having a round cross section. The main width of the tread is close to flat, the sidewalls and base contain strong reinforcing bands, the bead carries large loads and the tread depth varies greatly from the center to the edges - all of this contributes to their effectiveness.

    His 'invention' required the tyre to return to being a true 'doughnut' torus shape, which is a TERRIBLE shape for a tyre if you want any traction, as the contact patch is tiny. His invention also requires the torus to rotate on itself, placing huge stress on the inner and outer surfaces as it rotates sideways, which will result is high wear and low lifespan.

    Basically, sorry but it is a non-starter for anything outside short lifespan, low load and low speed applications, and problem that is already well solved with sidewinder/mechanum 'tyres' which are a group of cones, and suffer for less issues than his system would (although speed is still a major issue, and traction a medium one)

    Still, the media will love it, and people will 'wow' at the example video. A set of car wheel skates/dollies let you push a car around like this at low speed quite easily already, and have been around for a long LONG time - and are about as practical.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:01AM (#52432477)

      Standard modern tyres combine a lot of technology to make them work as well as they do in griping

      Well I've had more than enough of my tires griping. If this gives them a more positive outlook then so much the better.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm really tyred of people using weyrd spellyngs like that.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's the thing. There would be far less technical problems if you simply just made all 4 wheels able to turn at 90 degrees. Then you just use regular old tires. This technique has been around for about as long as the wheel itself.

    • I came to say all the same things you said, but with one addition: these will be great for robots used indoors. But yes, they are a complete non-starter for automobiles. Completely worthless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        For indoors use the Mecanum wheel [wikipedia.org] was invented in the 70's and have been used by the US Navy since the 80's.
        This solution is more obvious and less capable than the 40+ year old alternative.
        Robot example [youtube.com]
        Forklift example [youtube.com]

    • I was thinking the exact same thing as you.

      One other thought, what happens to the rollers when they get gummed up with road debris such as tar, mud, sand, rocks, etc. Not to mention icing and salt in the winter. It is interesting from a novelty perspective and maybe it will get people to think about other methods to solve this. But this just isn't one of them....

    • Here's Goodyears version of the Omniwheel.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      It's a spherical tire and uses mag lev. it's just a concept not a prototype but it lacks the things you say are essential.

      The contact patch of Any tire is identical. It soley depends on the pressure. pressure*area = weight of car.

      His tires have 2 times as many sidewalls as a regular tire so it's plausible they don't have to be as stiff.

      • The contact patch of Any tire is identical. It soley depends on the pressure. pressure*area = weight of car.

        That's not even close to true. "Contact patch" is a nebulous thing that changes from moment to moment, so that's one thing that's wrong with what you said. Another thing that's wrong with it is that tires don't behave the same at different pressure. A tire designed to hold up a vehicle using 25 psi is totally different from a tire designed to use 50 psi. A tire that's designed to do cornering is totally different from a tire that isn't. In order to handle lateral G forces, the tire is squared off and a stif

        • pressure*area = weight of car.

          • pressure*area = weight of car.

            Go ahead and go out and measure this in the real world and if your measurement is at all accurate you'll find that a portion of the weight is carried by the sidewall. Now go forth and get an accurate measurement while the vehicle is in motion. I'll wait...

            • by suutar ( 1860506 )

              Given that "contact patch" means "what's touching the ground", what else is transmitting force between the vehicle and the ground? The sidewalls transmit from the rims to the tread, sure, but in the end the tread transmits to the ground, right?

              • by suutar ( 1860506 )

                Oh, I think I see, you're arguing that not all of the rim-tread transmission is through the air in the tire and therefore not all the weight is supported by air pressure. Is that it?

                • Oh, I think I see, you're arguing that not all of the rim-tread transmission is through the air in the tire and therefore not all the weight is supported by air pressure. Is that it?

                  Correct. Even in a normal tire, a percentage of the load is carried by the sidewall, so the relationship between air pressure, patch size and weight is a complicated one. When you also consider run-flats and low-profile tires, the picture becomes even more complex.

  • by photonic ( 584757 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @07:42AM (#52432437)
    I don't understand exactly how these tires work, but having wheels with integrated rollers so that you can move sideways is a pretty old idea, see for example this forklift [youtube.com] (video from 2006!).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2016 @07:49AM (#52432457)

    It's completely flat, it will have no "grip" to the ground. I don't see myself using that even during summer, much less winter on ice.

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @12:28PM (#52433583) Journal

      It's completely flat, it will have no "grip" to the ground.

      This is a common misconception: flat tyres actually grip the ground better than tyres with a tread because they have a larger surface area in contact with the ground which generates more friction. This is why Formula 1 cars have flat tyres when racing in dry conditions. The tread is there because in wet conditions you need channels to get rid of the water between the tyre and the road when travelling at speed otherwise you hydroplane. So the tread is not there to increase grip but to get rid of water and as these tyres are now they will not grip well at speed in wet conditions but they will actually grip better than a treaded tyre in dry conditions.

      • by feufeu ( 1109929 )

        I'd add that in real life and even in dry conditions there will always be the occasional spot that has some dirt and where the treads will provide the necessary grip.

        • I think that would depend on the amount of loose material you have just as with water where a damp surface is fine and you only need grooves when there is some amount of water standing on the surface and I expect that by the time you have enough loose material to cause problems for a non-grooved tyre you very likely have a significant riving hazard since tyres will kick that material up and into the path of a driver behind you obscuring their vision and possibly damaging their vehicle.
  • Questions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Eric T Duckman ( 4391433 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @07:49AM (#52432459)
    How do the rollers get power, how does the driver control the roller speed and direction, what kind of wear and tear does the tire experience when it is twisting like a smoke ring, will the tires slip on the rollers when the brakes are applied, and what's to keep the tires from coming off the rollers at high speeds or while braking? It sure seems to be adding a lot of moving parts to a simple, proven design just to make it easier to park without having to change the way the wheels are mounted to the car. It looks cool, though.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:11AM (#52432517)

      How do the rollers get power

      There are regional settings allowing for a range from polite persuasion through to bloody coup.

    • Also, how difficult is it to change a tire when it (eventually) needs to be replaced? Every new car comes with a spare and a jack. If you need to have your car towed to the shop every time you get a flat, this just wont work.
      • A recurring point is that this approach is a "bolt on" solution. How it can possibly work is beyond me, but being able to conventionally change them is a claimed benefit.

  • Wow. A tire rounded like a donut? What will those Canadians think of next?
  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:42AM (#52432591) Homepage

    Omnidirectional wheels are not new (1949 german parent [google.com]).

    What is probably new here is that the wheel surface is not a discontinuous set of smaller wheels - it's a toroidal tire that can rotate on the in-out axis. This requires the surface to stretch considerably and is probably not compatible with the requirements for car tires. This has real applications, but standard passenger cars are probably not one of them. This car demo is, however, a great way to attract attention and, hopefully, investment. A forklift just doesn't have the same dramatic effect.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 )
    A few years ago I looked at some old copies of a magazine called "Radio and Hobbies" at a relative's house. In an issue from 1948 there were photos of a prototype parking device like this.
  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @09:12AM (#52432671)

    Every year during the first couple of snowstorms you see cars (trucks and buses) do that. Mind you it's not intentional.

  • The doughnut shape of the tire would not leave enough rubber in contact with the road, to be safe at high speeds. Nor is there any tread to grip the road.

  • Many cars can already to this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Four wheel steering could achieve many of the same goals of these four-way tires, without reducing the safety and road handling of modern tire design.

    • Four wheel steering wouldn't do any of the same stuff, and the more you made it do it, the less suitable it would be at its ordinary job. You'd also have to make the front and rear wheels capable of turning 90 degrees.

      • Before you say it can't, you might want to check out this video.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        • Four wheel steering wouldn't do any of the same stuff, and the more you made it do it, the less suitable it would be at its ordinary job. You'd also have to make the front and rear wheels capable of turning 90 degrees.

          Before you say it can't, you might want to check out this video.

          Show me where I said it can't. Then, show me how that shitbox does in a slalom. I will bet you a hundred dollars any aygo or fit will beat it into a pulp, let alone anything I would actually drive. The problem, to which I alluded in my comment, is that making the suspension capable of doing that job compromises its ability to do its primary job.

  • Okay, that looks kinda cool, and potentially very useful. I can see a boatload of possible uses and places where it would be great to have something like this.

  • by fikx ( 704101 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @02:24PM (#52434391) Journal
    Did anyone notice how sped up the video was?
    The car moves at a creeping pace, yet looking at the driver shows the video is sped up a lot. And it STILL looks slow...
  • Donut... Tim Horton's

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer

Working...