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Giant Spherical Wheels used for Omnidirectional Prototype Motorcycle


Do you remember the Batcycle in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises? Remember how the wheels could spin on their sides so that Batman could quickly change direction? What if you replaced those wheels altogether with a couple of balls, using the giant spheres for omnidirectional travel? That’s exactly what some students have done.

This is a project by San Jose State University students and while they may have borrowed some inspiration from Hollywood (the Audi RSQ from I, Robot is prime example), this omnidirectional bike is very real and offers a world of possibilities. Consider what kind of maneuvers you can do when your have spheres for wheels. It’s not just about forward and back, since you can literally travel in any direction. Go sideways. Move around in a 360-degree circle while facing in the same direction.

Done right, it means that this ballsy bike can move from side to side without having to turn. This is fantastic for parallel parking,  but you can see how this kind of motion would be easily adapted for other applications too, like the military. I’m looking forward to what the extreme motocross people can do with this one.

At this point, the students from SJSU have tested some scale models and they’ve secured the parts they need for the full-sized version. The bike’s frame is complete and they have a couple of rubber-coated carbon fiber and fiberglass balls. The first (low speed) tests on the larger prototype are scheduled for later this year.

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About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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