Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wheel robots makes designers rethink cars

This article about Smart Cities Team at MIT excited me a bit, not so much because of its potential (which is neat), but more the fact that they rethought the engineering of the car.
The MIT concept car is a complete re-think of vehicle technology. For a start, there is no engine, at least in the traditional sense. The power comes from devices called wheel robots. "These are self-contained wheel units that have electric motors inside,"

A traditional engine puts engineering and design restraints on what type of wheel rotations and movements are available. Because of this restraint, we've gotten so use to the idea of a car only having steering in the front two wheels.

With wheel robots, all the wheels can rotate independent of each other. That means that you can rotate while you're going forward, or slide into a parallel parking space. When new technology becomes available, we should take a step back and rethink why design and engineeering decisions were made in the first place.

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