autoevolution

This Wheel Can Drive Itself and Steer at 360-Degrees

In a big, crowded city it all comes down to space. As most of the world’s metropolises were designed possibly centuries ago, most of them are suffocated by today’s traffic, and driving in a major city is a real adventure. 
Protean360+ wheel 5 photos
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In a crowded city, a car’s main problem is its design. The long metal boxes need space to turn, park and stop, and all of this because we’ve been stuck with the same basic layout for a vehicle we had more than a century ago.

But what if you took size out of the equation? What if you eliminated things like turn radius? How would driving in a crowded city look like then?

Protean Electric, an American company in the business of reinventing the wheel, announced it is working on a technology that can do just that. A wheel that can drive itself and turn in every direction imaginable so that the car itself always maintains its orientation, regardless of the direction it is moving in.

Called Protean360+, the wheel has been announced as "the first of its kind to be developed for commercial applications." It incorporates powertrain, steering and suspension into a single module, and if adopted on a large scale could forever change urban transportation.

Using the embedded tech, the wheel can turn on itself at 360 degrees, meaning it can turn the car completely around within its own footprint. It could park front-, rear-, or side-on to the curb without the need to turn the steering wheel.

What’s more important, each of these wheels packs more power than some production cars. The electric motor in each of them delivers 107 hp and 1,250 Nm of torque. Multiply that by four wheels, and you get a decent idea about its capabilities.

Protean did not say when this technology could become available. When it does, it could be used on human- or self-driving cars, for personal or collective transportation.

Full details about the Protean360+ can be found in the document attached below.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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