Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Don't be afraid to re-invent the wheel...

Here's a new invention that features robots taking advantage of square wheels. That's right, square wheels. It may become useful in applications such as Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) in nanotechnology.

Here's a description of the device:

The first prototype consisted of a car with 4 square wheels, in the general configuration of a typical car, with all 4 wheels mechanically connected together so they must all turn in unison. Furthermore, the rotational orientation of the wheels are sequentially off-set from one wheel to the next by 22.5° (¼ of 90°), moving around the vehicle in a CW or CCW direction as viewed from above.

“The weight shifting that propels the car is facilitated by a weight offset laterally from the center of the car that is moved in a rotational manner around the center of the car”, says inventor Jason Winckler of Global Composites. “The rotation is provided by a driven shaft extending vertically from the center of the car, with a lateral arm and off-set weight. As the shaft rotates, the weigh shifts in a circular manner around the car”.

“The shifting weight sequentially drives each wheel that is under the weight to sit flat on the ground, thus moving the other wheels in a rotational manner, and the car in a linear direction; reversing the direction of the rotating weight, reverses the direction of the car. There are also several methods for steering the car that are under development” says Steven Winckler, President of Global Composites.

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