Weight shifting square wheel car

A novel method of locomotion that uses a shifting weight to provide a driving force could have implications at the MEMS level.

A US inventor has come up with a novel method of locomotion that uses a shifting weight to provide a driving force.

To demonstrate his idea, inventor Jason Winckler of Global Composites has developed a prototype consisting of a car with four square wheels!

All four are mechanically connected together so they must all turn in unison – the rotational orientation of the wheels are sequentially off-set from one wheel to the next by 22.5 degrees.

A weight offset laterally from the centre of the car is the moved around in a rotational manner around the centre of the car to propel it.

‘The rotation is provided by a driven shaft extending vertically from the centre of the car, with a lateral arm and off-set weight. As the shaft rotates, the weight shifts in a circular manner around the car’, said inventor Winckler.

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.

‘For use in micro-machines or MEMS applications, one of the key benefits (of the idea) is that the motor and gearing moving the shifting weight is all in a plane parallel to the motion surface. No right angle gearboxes are required. The connection between the two axels can be accomplished by simple linkages,’ added Stephen Derby, President of Distributed Robotics and a consultant to Global Composites.

Global Composites claims to be in early discussions with several companies for the licensing of the idea.

For more information and a video demonstration on the square wheel car visit http://www.globalcomposites.net