Students Are Busy Reinventing The Wheel With 'Spherical Drive System'


Boasting the slogan ‘Reinventing The Wheel’, a group of students have begun to conceptualise, build and test an electric motorcycle quite unique in its design. Replacing the typical circular wheels of which we have grown accustomed is a set of carbon fiber/fiberglass, rubber-coated spherical balls. The result is one of the coolest-looking, most bad-ass bikes we’ve ever seen…

Conceived by a group of students from Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University and looking like something straight out of Science-Fiction Movies 101 – the group pin down the movie I, Robot as a particular inspiration - the team believes the spherical drive system boosts stability and possesses superior manoeuvrability. “Despite having seen spherically-driven vehicles in futuristic movies, there has not been a huge push into the realm of the sphere,” the team’s websiteThe team were inspired by such forward-thinking designs as this, from the movie I, Robot.says. “We believe that the versatility of the sphere drive can give us a whole new degree of freedom and safety that we have yet to discover.” They hope to develop all the necessary hardware and software to enable it to self-balance and manoeuvre in any direction at slow speeds by the end of the year.

Particularly, the team will need to perfect a control system that takes sensor readings from a gyro-accelerometer combo and “determine an appropriate response based on the input from the user as well as maintaining stability”, as well as develop a system that transmits power for movement through contact friction to the wheels.

Still in the early stages of development, the team are already thinking much further ahead; “Though the immediate scope of the project is to have a vehicle that can balance and manoeuvre at low speeds, the ultimate goal is to have a fully functional electric vehicle that will be able to have speed and range comparable to any other vehicle.”

Richard Birkett