EDWARD The Vehicle of the Future

If there was a competition for coolest transportation device for the future, the diwheel would be at the top of the list with hover cars and teleportation. Over the past 3 years students at Adelaide University have been working on an Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping or EDWARD.

EDWARD is an entirely electric diwheel, the operator is strapped into the bucket seat between the two large wheels with a 5 point harness and can control the machine with a gaming joystick. Full dynamic stability and slosh control allow the operator to maneuver the vehicle at up to 40km/hr, inversion control even allows you to drive upside down (if you are that way inclined). The next question is just where can we get one? Check out the video after the break for a demonstration of EDWARD in action.

Comments

  1. Taylor Alexander says:

    I feel like this is an appropriate time for me to ask this:

    Can we stop assuming that all robotic/mechanical things need acronyms for names? Its sooooooo overplayed. This has always been a major peeve of mine.

    The last few robots I built were named Fred and Edgar. No acronyms, just nice names.

    Anyway, not trying to troll, this has just always been something that annoys me. Thought I would see what other people think.
    Thoughts?

  2. Taylor Alexander says:

    Sorry, not trying to be negative. The project is certainly awesome!

  3. P says:

    I feel as though I have seen this somewhere before…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Entity_%28South_Park%29

  4. oh no, it looks like that contraption from South Park… :)

  5. DanJ says:

    Very cool. But am I the only one who immediately thought of South Park and winced?

  6. madcows says:

    So it’s sort of like a Segway in a can? At 40kmh, I’d have to imagine that the brakes do nothing more than cause you to tumble into whatever is in front of you.

  7. Shining says:

    Segway style stabilization should work to keep it more managable

  8. John says:

    hmm, someone cobble together a parts/price list for a DIY version of this. There really isnt anything complicated going on there.

  9. blackspyder says:

    Need one of these for burningman. =]

  10. ralf says:

    Do want!

  11. fluxster says:

    it is me or is there no way to steer this thing? or is steered like a tank..like they said a la joystick!

  12. johnmc says:

    Might be a useful transport in inner cities as its parking footprint is reasonably small in a two seat configuration. The problems I see are that the wheel buggies have insufficient clearance for real world use. Ground clearance would need to be increased as well.

  13. Aaron E. says:

    I guess with proper use of forward and backward wheel power you could prevent yourself from simply rolling forward on a sudden stop.

    Seems pretty cool, but I imagine they’ll be as common as segways…

  14. Ren says:

    I’d like to see one go down the Spanish Steps in Rome!

  15. MrJodie says:

    Okay, so now what we want to know is… 1) Are they going to improve the top speed? 2) How long does the battery last? and 3) Will Congress give special vouchers for saving fuel and being REALLY cool?

  16. Pilotgeek says:

    Thank you, South Park.

  17. xorpunk says:

    expect to pay at least 4k for something that costs hundreds to manufacture..

    go buy a smart car or motorcycle for 5k more..brand new.

    I’m surprised DOT would pass this..what happens when one of the wheels gets a locked bearing? or you hit a bump at street speed? Hope you like brain damage and gforce..

  18. DudeGuy says:

    Now I can drive to the store AND get terrible motion sickness?!? Sign me up!
    In all seriousness though, if this thing were stable, it would be pretty nice.

  19. Tony says:

    I always wanted a monocycle until I saw how dangerous they were.

    I still want one, just not as much.

    At least with bolting two of them together you can see where you’re going…

  20. Ross Barnes says:

    Great design. The principles of engineering are not new but the lateral way they have been cobbled together is inspiring. I am sure this prototype can be improved and has potential as an alternate means of short distance commuting. It also has some useful concepts that may be incorporated into wheelchairs. Trust Australians to come up with a segway type vehicle that you can sit in. Congratulations to Adelaide University and the team.

    Ross

  21. Hirudinea says:

    Well its a good thing you can drive it upside down, saves you from puking on yourself.

  22. MrX says:

    Is someone else also thinking in ROLLCAGE!!! Old school games apart, this is a really really nice build..

  23. Retroplayer says:

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned Jimmy Neutron’s vehicle. I have the RC version of it that Radioshack sold. And yes, it operates like a tank.

    With the toy, anyway, the rider sits steady due to the center of gravity being below the center of the wheel.

  24. bacchus says:

    This is bollocks.

    There are a number of these things on the Internet, involving either 1 or 2 large wheels. They all suffer from the same problem – Tumbling, which is at its worst when you need it least, followed swiftly by crashing.

    There’s no way to stop them tumbling apart from sticking something out to stop the rotation, which kind of loses the cool quotient.

    Segway-type control isn’t going to help much as the dynamics are quite different.

    Sure, they’re funny – There’s a youtube of a car of similar but larger construction, and guess what? It can’t stop either.

    40kph and an oldster walks out, say, 10 metres further down the road, or even 20. Whadda you gonna do? Pray your victim’s descendents are physically unfit and don’t have anger management issues? Stick out a piece of two by four?

    I hope they learned a lot from this, not least Newton’s laws of motion (as in “Yerrr canna change…).

    Vehicle of the future? Purleezzz…

  25. Kevin says:

    an electric scooter is better,and its from the past

  26. drphill says:

    Cool, but it’s billed as the vehicle of the future? As cool as it is to stand it on its head and the like, what is the vehicle of the future going to be used for? Lets see it do normal stuff too like drive straight lines and navigate turns, climb and descend hills, you know, more than circles in a parking lot. Nice toy but not likely to be vehicle of the future. Obvious stability issues there.

  27. jarrod says:

    @bacchus well with decent programming tumbling can be prevented, just program it not to exceed the most efficient stopping angle, which wold be when the C.G of the carriage is as far back as possible ie, when the carriage is tilted 90 degrees backwards. its like ABS, where tumbling is analogous to a 4 wheeled vehicles wheels locking up and skidding (although the dynamic friction of a skidding car will have a greater stopping power than tumbling.. that makes it even more important to prevent tumbling) of course the vehicle will have a minimum stopping distance at a particular speed, but every vehicle does..

    I think I know which youtube video you are thinking of, its a single wheel “monocycle” right? that one fully relied on human control and had a petrol engine for propulsion. it didnt handle stopping very well, as soon as the carriage tipped back more than 90 degrees, the CG of the whole contraption was so high above its rotating axis that the gyroscopic effect of the wheel could no longer keep it stable (single wheel remember) that it would wobble all over the place then flip in ways it was not designed to and.. you would not want to be the driver.

    I made a hampster-ball robot back in 2004 for a high school project. never did anything more advanced than direct remote control, but the physics of it was similar, just with another dimension of rotation added. it was a PITA to control manually, would always oscillate as it had no feedback to cancel it out (behaved just like at the start of this video, where the carriage would rock forward and backwards) it would also tumble with disastrous effects as there was no system to prevent it.

    At the end of the day this is not really anything more than an experiment. the stopping distance is rather large because it relies on the offset mass of the carriage to stop.. it would be interesting what stopping distance these guys calculated and achieved on their prototype.
    The only use I can think of for something like this is maybe extraterrestrial terrain, where you could have two huge wheels, or a ball which will be less likely to get stuck.

    hm sorry about the long post guys

  28. bacchus says:

    @jarrod

    There are loads of things like this all over the place.

    It isn’t the same as anti-lock brakes, which actually work using the time honored technique of “cadence braking” which seeks to keep the braking force as high as the contact patches of the tyres can handle. In short, it seeks to make the most efficient use of what you have.

    In your scheme, braking force is reduced to prevent tumbling. In other words, one of your prime safety systems degrades itself when you most need it to overcome a basic deficiency of the design. That this degradation will be variable according to your circumstances is just going to add to the unpredictability of the vehicle. Suppose your road car varied the amount of braking force it allowed you to apply to the contact patch? You can’t overcome bad design with control systems, although they can obviously help except in tragic designs like this.

    If you have access to a car with ALB, try standing on the brakes in a corner with ALB on, then with it switched off. You may well find you prefer the handling with it switched off. So may your underwear :). In the unlikely event you enjoyed that, try the same thing on an ALB-equipped motorcycle. It’ll brown your trousers for sure…

    The only way I could see this turned into “The vehicle of the future” is if you could apply a contra-rotating force to the chassis, for instance using a flywheel of some sort. The obvious snag with this is that you would end up using something between a big, heavy, slowly rotating, flywheel, and a small, light, very rapidly rotating version of same. Getting the right compromise here would be vital if you intend to turn corners, or you would experience a “funeral precession”, if you’ll pardon the pun.

    Of course this is a tongue-in-cheek project, presumably to learn about control systems rather than turn out a usable product. It just seems like poor engineering to me, as well as a joke that’s been done so many times that it just isn’t funny anymore.

    I used to be very interested in “feet first” motorcycles, which suffer from a different but related dynamic flaw, and they’ve pretty much disappeared now, in spite of some pretty intense development, apart from that Swiss abortion with training wheels that automatically deploy when you go slowly, and Harleys, which have a low seat height that helps you use your legs more effectively.

    I note that no extra-terrestrial vehicles so far have used anything other than good ol’ wheels, and lots of ‘em :)

  29. Cabe says:

    Looks more like the Hailfire droid tanks from Star Wars.

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/IG-227_Hailfire-class_droid_tank

    Anything that tried to take out Jar Jar Binks is all right in my book.

  30. jarrod says:

    @bacchus
    “In short, it seeks to make the most efficient use of what you have.” thats exactly what I was describing, you will have the maximum deceleration when the mass is as far back as possible. if the angle is any more or less than 90 degrees braking force is reduced. think about it.
    yes it is using a control system to overcome a less than ideal situation, but it will make control better, especially in emergency situations where the default human response would be to jam on the brakes, causing you to tumble. I was only using the ABS analogy as an.. analogy.

    agree with everything else you said.

  31. jay says:

    Great job EDWARD Team! So what if there is not practical application for this vehicle? It looks like a great learning experience for engineering students who will take what they learned in this project to more practical designs for automobiles, aircraft and pretty much anything else that “goes”.

  32. Cynyr says:

    @Bacchus

    My car does reduce the braking force that it can provide with a set contact patch, well the weather does, it’s called snow.

    I agree with you about ALB in a corner though, first time you do that on snow and find yourself in oncoming traffic is scary, although I have to wonder if i would have spun otherwise.

    As for the ETVs using wheels, that’s a simple answer; the fewer the moving parts the less to break. Most of them are hub motors as well.

  33. haexn says:

    I wanted to see it go 40 mph ( or kph can’t remember). I don’t really care that it can go upside down or in circles.

  34. Max says:

    I can imagine such a vehicle not with a pair, but with a double pair of wheels. Normally, the doubles would stay perfectly concentric with the original wheels (behaving like a single set of slightly wider wheels), but as you try to brake, they could start extending forwards, effectively giving you a conventional 4-wheel platform to break on. Obviously, keeping “concentricity” might be a bit of an issue – this could be alleviated by sacrificing one more bit of coolness and making the second set of wheels slightly smaller than the original (that way they would be guaranteed not to interfere with the main wheels when approximately concentric).

  35. Max says:

    Another idea might be to create an “inner rim” on which the flexible tube of the wheel runs around, normally held stiffly circular by ex. hydraulic pressure. On braking, however, the rim might be partially “deflated” effectively distorting the wheel shape into something that now has a longer surface of contact with the ground (like an initially circular thread flattened into conventional tank shape) instead of a single point.

  36. JDN says:

    I don’t see why you can’t achieve the same thing with normal spoked wheels and hub motors. Maybe not as cool looking but functionally the same, much simpler and less vulnerable to mud and muck in the bearings.

  37. Max says:

    Ok, final suggestion – I promise to shut up now. It seems to me that the passenger seat is currently solidly mounted inside the wheel-bearing frame. What if it were actually mounted on a hinge placed somewhere “high up” in the frame? This would allow to swing the whole seat well outside the circle of the wheels – sure, it would have to be very tightly controlled to avoid hard hits of the “swung out” seat/cage on the road surface when the vehicle tends to roll over, but this doesn’t sound more complicated that what they are currently doing (or a segway balancing).

    However, a seat/cage “swung” well back would actually give you the equivalent full braking capacity of any conventional vehicle on their front wheels, at the point when their back wheels start lifting from the ground (in other words, “huge”, and probably more than what the wheels can handle without starting to skid anyway).

  38. Max says:

    @JDN: you certainly could – I think the main difference is that in this design, you could conceivably make a two-seat version where the seats were actually extending _into_ the wheels, while a set of spoked wheels would always have to extend sideways from the frame. Probably not _all that big_ of a difference in width, though…

  39. BOB d says:

    vevy gool but can you actually move from point A to point B with that thign since the whole demostration was just spinning the thing arrounf on a small area. Never saw it actually move steadily forward or backwards.

  40. Fogger says:

    One way to counteract the acceleration and braking forces would be to add a significant number of batteries to it, and then shift the weight of the batteries forward or backward as needed. It would also have the side effect of increasing the range and possibly top speed. But since the rider would be heavier than the batteries, why not slide the whole seat & rider forward and backwards.

    Another option is to modify it into a tracked vehicle. This would add a lot more grip, as well as add stability while accelerating or braking. That would make it more practical, but probably not as much fun.

  41. Pinky says:

    Whoever asked for a parts list – read the final report, it’s very detailed with names and sources for all parts. <3 Pinky

  42. steve says:

    Plain awesome. Wish I had one…

  43. FaPPeR says:

    I’d want to see that contraption climb a hill

  44. dcept905 says:

    I love all the trolls who criticize and can’t even be bothered to read. Questions about stopping distance as well as stabilization are all completely discussed in their report. Yes, there’s a BOM too that shows the build cost. “Hackers” that can’t even be bothered to read for themselves… awesome. On a more positive note: Awesome build! Ignore the criticism from asshats b/c no matter what they say, that’s one hell of an accomplishment!

  45. jarrod says:

    @dcept905
    what page of the final report does it outline stopping distance? must have missed it the first time.
    All I found is that they have a manual emergency brake, which would not be fun to use at 40km/h.

    I suppose for the non-emergency brake system the slosh control would have some angular limit programmed in (for non-inverted mode :P), although I cant find mention of it.

    yeah epic project though. really nicely made and designed

  46. tantris says:

    @taylor: i assume taylor stands for “tired of acronyms yet likes other robotics”

  47. nicotrial says:

    seems more stable when up side down to drive…..

  48. Vampyredh says:

    I think a weight maximizing the stabilization to keep you sitting straight and a nice shell for rain would make this thing nice. Sorry but I don’t think having my feet in the view of forward motion is all that safe. I think it is a great concept now just fix the tumble and skin it I would buy one.

  49. JJ says:

    The purpose of this project was not to build the vehicle of the future – it was probably one of the coolest Mechatronic Final Year Projects at the uni. They were improving the slosh control, and having a lot of fun at the same time. I believe it was more stable than the video suggests because they filmed the fun/interesting parts. It was a very complicated project for undergraduates to work on and they achieved an excellent result.
    It really isn’t as simple as a lot of people on this seem to think and it was to test control systems not to develop a form of transport. Give them a break.

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