The term “to reinvent the wheel” is often used as a dismissive remark, but a team of students from San Jose State have set out prove everyone wrong by replacing the wheels of a motorcycle with a new spherical drive system. While the idea of using spheres instead of traditional wheels has been occasionally touched on in Sci-Fi fantasy, most notably the Audi RSQ from I, Robot, there has been little development into their real world application.
A spherical drive system allows a vehicle to move in any direction at a given moment, allowing for completely omnidirectional maneuverability. Unlike any other vehicle that uses a fixed axle to transfer energy to a rotating wheel, the use of spheres means that power must transmitted by contact friction alone. This is done through a variety of contact points on the sphere that will not only distribute power, but also stabilize the vehicle. Sensitive sensors and extensive control stabilization software need to be developed in order to keep the bike upright.
This project looks to test the feasibility of an omnidirectional vehicle at low speeds in a controlled setting, however, the ultimate intention is to develop one that is comparable in power and speed to current motorcycles.
To learn more about this project visit sphericaldrivesystem.com