Will parallel parking and three-point-turns one day be a thing of the past? We've seen Mecanum wheels, the omnidirectional wheels that allow vehicles to move sideways and rotate in place. But the fact that Airtrax has stopped producing them on their forklifts indicates they're either not practical or not profitable.
Now another inventor has produced an omnidirectional wheel, which appears to operate on a different principle than the Mecanums. Observe:
Canada-based inventor William Liddiard calls them Liddiard Wheels, and that's his own car that he's added them to in the video. "Unlike other omni capable wheels, my wheels do not require the vehicle to be built around them," Liddiard writes. "This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels." We're not sure either of those statements are true, as Airtrax's Mecanum wheels appeared to be retrofitted to existing forklifts.
In fact, in his description Liddiard, who's seeking a partner to bring the invention to market, makes a lot of bold claims, without backing up a single one of them with any kind of demonstration or deeper explanation:
Designed to be used in all weather and road conditions. They are stronger, faster, and more accurately controlled than prior art [sic]. They can take a beating. The tires "can" have the same build characteristics (siping, grooves, rubber compounds etc.) as regular tires.
If all of this is true, why is there no footage of the thing driving on the highway in the rain, or plowing through potholes? And if you watch the video very closely, you'll notice something peculiar: In the rotating scenes Liddiard, who is apparently working the controls from the passenger seat, inexplicably flickers. It appears that the video is missing frames and/or that some editing has been done.
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If you look at the background, you can see that the footage of the rotating car is substantially sped up. For comparison, look at the flag in the rotating scenes versus the flag at the end, when the car is moving conventionally.
Good call. Flag seems more normal if you bring the speed down to .25/.5
Which means that the rotate mode is REALLY slow.
Yep. I came to say the same thing. Good eyes, guys.
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It's pretty obvious that you can make an omni wheel from a "prolapsing" torus like that (at least, it's occurred to me before). But it raises a ton of questions, like, aren't soft tubes inherently prone to popping off the hubs, and don't they get extremely hot if you drive them at any speed?