Alternative Transportation

So I’ve always been interested in transportation design, but not necessarily the 4-wheeled cars we’ve become accustomed to this past century. I’m curious about completely different approaches, particularly using the self-balancing gyroscope technology of the Segway in a larger vehicle.

I’m talking goofy vehicles like:

I was hoping some of you experts out there could answer some of my questions and perhaps share some cool concepts you’ve seen. Have the attempts at making these kinds of vehicles been complete and utter failures, and that’s why were not seeing them? Are the big car companies (Ford, GM) exploring concepts like this? Am I delusional or is it logical to think that these kinds of vehicles could be light years better with gas mileage, efficiency, cost, etc?

You are delusional to think that these vehicles would deliver more efficiency. They could be cool in niche applications.

First is aerodynamics. Aero takes into consideration in two factors: frontal area and drag coefficient. The big wheel vehicles are quite large and the aerodynamics of a wheel are horrible. Therefore, it’s never going to be a very efficient design.

Second is suspension. It’s not impossible, but it’s a far more complex engineering problem to properly isolate the driver inside a wheel while maintaining a good level of feel and control

Third is stability. These vehicles are naturally unstable. It’s why almost everyone can ride a bike and nearly no one can ride a unicycle. It’s hard work! Therefore, you have another substantial engineering project to develop a stability control. Having said that, people like Segway have and the cost of the technology is always dropping.

Lastly, if you are looking for design styling concepts, I encourage you to explore this design. It’s one of those things that comes back every other year and looks fresh and exciting again. There are also a lot more possibilities that have yet to been explored versus a conventional car design.

Haha thanks for responding. I certainly don’t think they could fully replace cars, especially with the infrastructure we already have that supports them, but yeah like you said, for niche markets. Particularly urban environments (you probably wouldn’t wanna roll one of these out on an interstate/freeway) and smaller countries that have more public transportation. They would be great for short commuting to work and you could use public transportation for longer commutes.

I have some ideas bouncing around in my head about how the aerodynamics problem could be solved. The suspension and stability problems are certainly complex which is why I was wondering if any big car companies with more resources were exploring this…

I do plan on doing some styling concepts, but I certainly want them to be semi-feasible, so just looking in to the reality and engineering problems to face. Thanks for your input!

By the way my dad used to own a 914. We’re big Porsche fans :slight_smile:

You may want to check out The Official Hubless Wheel Haters Thread for some insight.

But until then, maybe this will temper your zeal for mono-wheel vehicles. The first part is interesting, but the real fun begins at 03:00 minutes. If you spend some time on YouTube you will discover that this is the culmination of ten years of powered mono-wheel development by this gentleman.