College students reinvent the wheel with spherical drive motorcycle

spherebike.jpg

  ” A group of engineering students have designed what may be the coolest motorcycle ever, if you can even call it a motorcycle.

While at San Jose State University last spring, senior Max Ratner and a team of undergrads invented what they call the Spherical Drive System. Instead of wheels and tires the motorcycle they designed rides on spheres controlled by six motors on top of them. The result is a very radical ride can move in any direction.

The team recently completed the steel frame. This fall, they plan to start building the electrical components and finish the motor design, which is the most unique component. For the drive system to work, complex algorithms control each motor – three on each sphere. With the spheres, the team says they are “reinventing the wheel” because the bike has a new freedom of movement to zig-zag through traffic, park laterally, and even spin in place.

 “The spherical design is actively balancing all the time, which is similar to a Segway,” says Henry Li, part of the six-person engineering team. “We chose the form factor of a motorcycle because we know it can handle high-speeds, but the Segway is limited in how fast it can go.” “

HT/IowaHawk