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1967 Gyro-X Car To Be Restored

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the future-sure-is-cool dept.

Transportation 140

Zothecula writes "Back in 1967, California-based Gyro Transport Systems built a prototype vehicle known as the Gyro-X. The automobile had just two wheels, one in front and one in the back and, as the car's name implies, it utilized a built-in gyroscope to remain upright when not moving. Although its developers hoped to take the Gyro-X into production, the company went bankrupt, and the one-and-only specimen of the car became an orphan. For much of the past 40-plus years, that car has passed from owner to owner, its condition deteriorating along the way. Now, it's about to be restored to its former (weird) glory."

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140 comments

the idea was prototyped for trains, too (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43025877)

The gyro monorail [wikipedia.org] has to be one of my favorite bits of almost-sci-fi technology. Real enough to be prototyped, but not quite practical enough to be deployed (yet).

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (4, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#43026019)

Seems to be a wasteful way to keep something that is in contact with the ground upright.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (4, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year ago | (#43026181)

I see you've been downrated, but it is a very valid point. What problem does this solve without adding more?

I'm not too familiar with this car, and I haven't seen the details yet, so I'm asking here:

1. Is this gyro going to serve dual-purpose as a flywheel?
2. What is the overall benefit? Is this mainly to eliminate the drag from extra wheels and thus improve fuel economy?

I could certainly see how this thing would be really cool if you used it as a flywheel and took advantage of regenerative braking to suppliment it's spinning, but as usual, I'm always nervous about mechanical stores of energy. Chemical stores are dangerous too, but for the most part they can be protected/disabled in the event of an accident. With flywheels, that energy IS going to be released, and you never want it all at once.

Am I off-base here? Please correct me if I am.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026345)

Reducing the minimum turning radius at high velocity.
I'd imagine it would allow the train to tilt while turning at high velocity using centripetal force to stay on the tracks.
Afaik there are some conventional trains that can tilt to move the center of gravity around but nothing that comes close to what a gyro monorail could do.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (0, Redundant)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#43026733)

I'd imagine it would allow the train to tilt while turning at high velocity using centripetal force to stay on the tracks.

Trains already tilt while turning, by design.

Here is Richard Feynman [youtube.com] describing it.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43027307)

Yes. But some high speed designs actually tilt the cabin (take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilting_train ) to achieve higher speed on existing trails by minimizing the turning radius and using an even bigger component of the centripetal force to keep the thing on the tracks.

Those gyro trains would allow for even more tilting and therefore for a bigger component of the centripetalforce to hold the train onto the track . Its basically the same idea as with bicycles and motorcycles which can tilt dramatically while turning at high speed.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43027521)

Yes. But some high speed designs actually tilt the cabin (take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilting_train [wikipedia.org] ) to achieve higher speed on existing trails by minimizing the turning radius and using an even bigger component of the centripetal force to keep the thing on the tracks.

Those gyro trains would allow for even more tilting and therefore for a bigger component of the centripetalforce to hold the train onto the track . Its basically the same idea as with bicycles and motorcycles which can tilt dramatically while turning at high speed.

umm wouldn't the gyro (the way it's used in the car for example) try to .. well.. fuck up just the thing that the tilting is trying to do on passanger train(purposefully tilting it against the g forces so that you don't notice it inside that car).

reducing rolling friction might be the only reason to use it in a car, really. and even then you only need it at slow speeds and you could use pop-out assist wheels when stationary.. some swiss guys were building sit-in bikes like that in the '90s, actually.

so this car seems rather silly. cool, but silly.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43027391)

But not to shift the center of gravity. It changes the wheel diameter, which make turns more efficient by reducing friction.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026873)

I'm always nervous about mechanical stores of energy.

If you want to think like an engineer, stop thinking about energy. Think about power. Measure everything in power. You'd be really stoked if I gave you a debit card with $1M on it...until I mentioned the $1/day spending limit. Energy is useless if you can't move it around.

When you think about flywheel storage, don't think about the energy capacity. That just mentally turns the flywheel into a black box for you. Think of it as a connected mesh of weights. The mesh has a stress limit, beyond which it breaks. You can use that stress budget for three things: maintaining the orbit of the weights, adding energy to the mesh, and extracting energy from the mesh.

Think about a flywheel right on the edge of bursting. What happens if you try to speed it up? It bursts. What happens if you try to slow it down? It also bursts. Why? Because both increasing and decreasing the angular momentum requires increasing the stress on the mesh. Your entire stress budget is being used holding the orbits-- you have nothing left. If you are thinking about a flywheel as just an energy bucket, you'll never realize this.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (4, Informative)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43027023)

If you want to think like an engineer, stop thinking about energy.

Don't know about the GP, but I am an engineer and what I am thinking is that your post is a load of tosh.

I am not an engineer, so as I read it, it kind of (1)

postofreason (1305523) | about a year ago | (#43027359)

made sense. Could you explain where the original poster made his/her mistake?

Re:I am not an engineer, so as I read it, it kind (3, Informative)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43027711)

made sense. Could you explain where the original poster made his/her mistake?

They said :

If you want to think like an engineer, stop thinking about energy. Think about power. Measure everything in power.

Power is the rate of transfer of energy. Think about one and you need to think about the other. Like income is a rate of transfer of wealth (to use a finance analogy as the GP did).

With a vehicle going along, power (measured in Watts - or horsepower in old units) is the main interest - because it determines the rate (ie speed) at which it can push through the air (and other) resistance and climb hills. In doing this it is drawing energy (measured in Joules) from its store which could be in fuel, in a flywheel, a battery, or (hybrid) combinations of these. The vehicle draws energy from this store at some rate expressible in Joules per second, which is Watts. Multiply this rate by some efficiency percentage (like 30% with an internal combustion engine), and that is the power getting to the wheels. The total energy in the store is of interest in determining the range of the vehicle

However, from the safety angle any energy store is a potential bomb or fireball, and you need to think about what will happen to it in a crash. In conventional cars the fuel tank is fairly well protected from impact; once broken it tends to catch fire. Designing a car with a flywheel would also need to consider a crash - for instance if it escaped from its casing it would shoot off like a random cannon ball. The potential damage of either fuel or a loose flywheel would be measurable by their energy content at the time. This was the point raised by the GGP.

The GP's analogy of a flywheel as a "connected mesh of weights" is a strange one and irrelevant to the point.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43026875)

1. Is this gyro going to serve dual-purpose as a flywheel?

Yes. IIRC someone did the math and the optimum was to go for strength and speed rather than weight in the flywheel for energy storage.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (1)

Kaptain Kruton (854928) | about a year ago | (#43027481)

Why does it have to solve a problem? If you are on Slashdot, surely you can understand that some things have a 'geek factor' and people want to buy or make one because of that.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (4, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43026341)

At the time (early 20th century), rail speeds were limited by a side-to-side oscillation that the single rail eliminated. It also automatically banked in turns, making sharper turns more comfortable for passengers. Both problems have since been mostly solved, without resorting to the need for "train"ing wheels. Sorry.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (2)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | about a year ago | (#43026369)

Every extra point of contact adds significant rolling (or sliding) friction.
It's perfectly plausible that the energy cost of a ludicrous mechanism to minimize points of contact could end up more efficient than the straightforward solution of "more wheels".

That said, I'm skeptical of the big single flywheel working out well, since it seems like it would have a crazy effect on the handling (like old rotary biplanes, which could turn tighter in one direction because of the gyroscopic effect of the engine on the plane.)

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026657)

Seems to be a wasteful way to keep something that is in contact with the ground upright.

Could be useful in wartime though, you'd only have to ensure one track is viable to send troops/material through damaged or differently gauged areas.

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year ago | (#43028463)

Seems to be a wasteful way to keep something that is in contact with the ground upright.

Less weight, less friction, less fuel used, fewer worn out tires. Once a flywheel is spinning it doesn't take much to keep it going. There are equal downsides like accidents can get iffy and it's more parts to wear out. They really are quite stable. There are major advantages in cornering if it's an active system.

LIT Motors C-1 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026079)

San Francisco startup LIT Motors has its upcoming C-1, which is a 2-wheeled enclosed electric vehicle that likewise uses a gyroscopic flywheel to stay upright:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65GUZCxfMN0 [youtube.com]

Re:the idea was prototyped for trains, too (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026649)

Swiss Gyro Bus [wikipedia.org] Not just prototyped but actually providing commercial service. Am jealous of my father who was lucky enough to ride them during business trips to Switzerland.

It just don't make no sense (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43025995)

Cars suck anyway. Instead of turning cars into motorcycles and making them less safe in the process (one flat tire on a four-wheeled vehicle is dramatically less serious than one flat tire on a two-wheeled vehicle; now consider the case of two flat tires!) we should take the rubber off of them and put them on rails.

If you use one hanging rail, then you don't even need any stabilization. Or if you use one ribbon-shaped rail, but then you still need more wheels to ride it (on the sides.)

Regardless, it's a cool restoration project, you just wouldn't catch me driving it daily. And that's the only kind of restoration project I'm interested in, not being filthy rich. My 1982 W126 300SD continues to improve.

Re:It just don't make no sense (2)

phil_aychio (2438214) | about a year ago | (#43026059)

run-flat tires would negate the "single-catastrophic flat tire' phenomenon described above

Re:It just don't make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026285)

Or better yet, tweels.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1, Interesting)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#43026339)

Instead of turning cars into motorcycles and making them less safe in the process (one flat tire on a four-wheeled vehicle is dramatically less serious than one flat tire on a two-wheeled vehicle; now consider the case of two flat tires!)...

I don't know if it's true a gyro car is less safe than a four-wheeled car, but I do want to point out that you're reasoning is flawed because you don't account for how much less likely it would be to get a flat tire in the first place.

For example, instinctively people think that two-engine airplanes are safer than single-engine ones, because the plane can still fly after one engine failure. Any pilot will tell you the opposite is true, however. All else being equal, a plane with two engines is twice as likely to have an engine failure, and a two-engine plane flying with one engine is less safe than a single-engine plane with its one engine working.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43026405)

1. How would it avoid flat tires?

2. What do pilots base that on? and why would they be qualified to make such a determination? As far as I can tell the FAA disagrees considering the rules favoring many engined planes for commercial use.

Re:It just don't make no sense (3, Interesting)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year ago | (#43026663)

1. How would it avoid flat tires?

You have more tires in the road with 4 wheels than one. The chances of at least one of them going flat is therefore higher, since you're covering more surface area with the road. There may be other factors, I'm not an expert in the field, and I wasn't even disagreeing with your premise that the car is more dangerous, it could very well be. I'm simply pointing out that your explanation is too simplistic and you need to know all the probabilities at hand before making that determination.

2. What do pilots base that on? and why would they be qualified to make such a determination? As far as I can tell the FAA disagrees considering the rules favoring many engined planes for commercial use.

Pilots base that on their training. It's part of what you study for your written private pilot's test. That said, in attempting to make my point, I will admit to oversimplifying the situation, and there are a lot more factors involved. If you're making an overseas flight, or are flying over a mountain range, the additional range given to you in case of engine failure is clearly going to make a twin-engine plane safer, because you're four times less likely to suffer a complete engine failure, and there's no place to land if you're only gliding. I don't know what FAA rules you were referring to in particular, but I assume they relate to those types of flights.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026679)

I believe the line about more engines meaning more chances for something to break is a Charles Lindbergh quote. If your goal is to make one record-breaking flight over the ocean, you want the simplest, lightest design possible. If he flew a two-engine plane and one engine broke, the remaining engine wouldn't do him much good: he'd not be able to reach an airport anyway. Either he made it with no engine failures, or he wasn't going to make it.

Whereas, if you're running (or regulating) an airline, you accept that eventually one engine WILL break, so you insist on having at least two engines, so that your planes can still make a landing at least some of the time.

Re:It just don't make no sense (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year ago | (#43026855)

2. What do pilots base that on? and why would they be qualified to make such a determination? As far as I can tell the FAA disagrees considering the rules favoring many engined planes for commercial use.

The standard saying is:
"I'd rather have an engine fail, rather than have the engine fail.

You can probably limp home on one. You can't limp home on none

Re:It just don't make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43027833)

You can probably limp home on one. You can't limp home on none

You aren't going directly home in either case, but single engine planes can all glide to a landing. Hell, even a helicopter can suffer engine failure and land safely, thanks to autorotation [wikipedia.org] .

Re:It just don't make no sense (1, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43026881)

FAA favors 4-engine as "multi-engine" and only recently (well, last 20 years or so) approved any 2-engine plane for extended range operation. With 4, you can lose one on the right wing, then turn the other on the right wing up to full and the two on the left to 50% and not get inherent yaw. Most 2-engine planes with an engine out will have control issues that could lead to bigger problems. The FAA still prefers 4-engine to 2-engine, but the makers say their planes are safe, and the carriers want the reduced operational costs of 2, so 2 it is, safety is a secondary consideration to the commercial ones.

Re:It just don't make no sense (4, Informative)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#43027037)

It's been a couple of decades since I took flying lessons, but here goes: Engines tend to die at the worst possible moments, when they are under the most stress. This is during the takeoff phase, when you are still relatively close to the ground. In a twin-engine plane, when one of the engines dies, it has two effects - one is that the plane suddenly has both a terrific off-center thrust and an increase of drag from the stopped propeller, causing yaw (rotation on the vertical axis), and the other is that the loss of the balancing effect of counter-rotating engines and the yaw-induced loss of lift on the slower wing drastically increases the tendency to roll (rotation on the line-of-flight axis). All in all, the loss of performance is much more than just the loss of thrust.

So when one engine dies, the pilot has a couple of seconds to do the right thing, or else the plane suddenly flips and dives sidewise (like those videos of fighter planes peeling off for a run at the enemy ship) the 300-1000 feet to the ground - too enough altitude to recover. The 'right thing' is pretty complicated according to this [skybrary.aero] . Some of it is counter-intuitive (so should be practiced during training). If you're fast, and lucky, you'll be able to go around and land.

Re:It just don't make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43027177)

I mean really, you just post any old crap that's in your head hoping to get modded? Troll.

Re:It just don't make no sense (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43028377)

He's correct on both accounts. It's statistics. If a tire has a 5% chance of catastrophically failing in 50,000 miles (stats made up for demonstration) and you have 4 tires, you have a 20% chance of a tire failure in that 50,000 miles. If you have 2 tires, you have a 10% chance.

The same with the plane. Each engine on a 2 engine plane has an equal failure rate. A plane withe 2 engines failure rate is double that of a single engine plane. If the 2nd engine were there simply for backup then having one fail wouldn't be that big of a deal... but it's not. The extra engine is there for extended cargo capacity. If that planes fully loaded and one of the engines fail, you're still screwed.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

JMandingo (325160) | about a year ago | (#43026437)

a two-engine plane flying with one engine is less safe than a single-engine plane with its one engine working.

If the engine configuration of the two-engine plane is push-pull then the thrust provided by the remaining engine stays in the center line. Add to that the comparison you forgot - a two-engine plane minus one engine has more range to find a runway to make an emergency landing on, whereas a single-engine plane minus one engine becomes a poor glider.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#43026691)

For example, instinctively people think that two-engine airplanes are safer than single-engine ones, because the plane can still fly after one engine failure. Any pilot will tell you the opposite is true, however. All else being equal, a plane with two engines is twice as likely to have an engine failure, and a two-engine plane flying with one engine is less safe than a single-engine plane with its one engine working.

And you also ignore extremely important factors.

You need to quantify the "safety" of the five configurations:
1. SIngle engine plane with the engine working.
2. Single engine plane with the engine failed.
3. Two engine plane with both engines working.
4. Two engine plane with one engine failed.
5. Two engine plane with both engines failed.

You also need to know the probability of an engine failure. And of course the two engines in a two engine plane aren't actually independent if one fails there's a higher than normal chance the other does to (from it will be required to do more work, to that if one engine failed due to icing or running our of fuel the other has a way higher chance than normal of also failing for the same reason, to them likely being identical models and so a design/manufacturing flaw applying to both).

Without knowing the relative numbers claiming either of them is safer is just hand waving bullshit (aside from going by empirical data of safety and engine failures - but then you can estimate the numbers from that data anyway).

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year ago | (#43027091)

From flight training a long time ago, engine failures tend to happen on takeoff. At that moment a two-engine plane that suddenly loses one engine is probably in more trouble than a single-engine plane with no engine working. The single has a reasonable chance of gliding somewhere and making a dead-stick landing. Unless the pilot does exactly the right things, very quickly (two-three seconds), the plane is likely to flip sidewise and drop out of the sky, with not enough altitude to correct the situation. I already cited this article [skybrary.aero] once, here 'tis again. And the numbers are there, probably on the net somewhere (I haven't looked at this stuff for a couple of decades) - NTSB flight accident stats tend to be very explicit.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#43027811)

I don't disagree. My Kerbal Space Program planes are much safer when they have a single engine - the two engine variants tend to flat spin when one engine flames just before the other out due to lack of air at stupid altitudes, and with essentially no air the control surfaces don't work either. And one engine snapping off at take off always ends badly too.

Of course it has the worst aerodynamic model I've ever had fun playing.

Re:It just don't make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43028621)

You guys keep forgetting why twin-engine planes have the second engine - to take you to the scene of the crash!!!

Re:It just don't make no sense (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43026825)

I don't know if it's true a gyro car is less safe than a four-wheeled car, but I do want to point out that you're reasoning is flawed because you don't account for how much less likely it would be to get a flat tire in the first place.

Do tell, how much less likely is it to get a flat tire in the first place? Let's say it's half as likely, which is almost certainly wrong but it's something to start with. Now, let's consider the failure mode. It's dramatically worse, especially if you lose the front tire at speed. Is it twice as bad? Could be, since you can't meaningfully steer. You might not fall over.

For example, instinctively people think that two-engine airplanes are safer than single-engine ones, because the plane can still fly after one engine failure. Any pilot will tell you the opposite is true, however. All else being equal, a plane with two engines is twice as likely to have an engine failure, and a two-engine plane flying with one engine is less safe than a single-engine plane with its one engine working.

The comparison is well-intended but not congruent. A better comparison would be comparing a twin-engined plane to a quad-engined plane. I don't know if it's still true, but it was true that most twin-engine planes couldn't even cruise on two engines. However, most quad-engined planes can cruise on three engines, and that long has been true. Of course, engines are not tires and so there's never going to be better than false congruence here, anyway.

If a plane is built such that it has two engines and can cruise on one, then even though you've increased the rate of failure (you have not doubled it, due to maintenance and inspection regimes commonly employed with aircraft) you've decreased the rate of catastrophic failure, which is what I was on about in the first place. Having four wheels is good. When a motorcyclist hits a patch of sand that only covers half the road they go farther off their path than when a four-wheeled vehicle travels over it with two of its wheels. And when the drift covers the whole road, the car is inherently more stable as well, not least because today it will have yaw control and it will have four wheels to work with in order to make corrections.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43026819)

You're obviously not a motorcycle rider. I've had my rear tire go flat, and handling "felt" weird (it took more input to get the same result), but traction wasn't greatly affected. In car tires, the sidewall flex is what causes most of the issues with flat tires, but motorcycle tires essentially have no sidewalls, so the issues are completely different. I haven't had a flat front, but a flat rear on a motorcycle was as safe or safer than a single flat rear on a car. At least with one flat on a bike you don't have an unstable and unsafe pull to one side, like you get with a car.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43026911)

You're obviously not a motorcycle rider.

Nope, but I do know a bunch of them, and so I know how squirrely it can be when a tire fails, especially at speed, and especially the front tire. Sometimes tires fail in a polite and orderly manner, and sometimes they basically disappear (often in fact departing the wheel at high speed in a psuedorandom direction) and leave you wondering where the hell they went and what all those sparks are about.

It's true that tire alternatives exist, due to a sibling comment I had a fun time reading about tweels which have problems at high speeds, bringing me back to wondering why we aren't putting the vehicles on rails. Steel wheels are highly reliable and you can filter the vibration in the suspension where it's relatively easy because it's more predictable and controllable.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43027345)

Well, there's a difference between a "flat" and a "blowout" and you can only discuss one in isolation from the other. A FWD car having a blowout in the outside front tire in the middle of a curve at speed will have little that can be reasonably done to keep the car in its own lane under control.

Re:It just don't make no sense (0, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43027535)

A FWD car having a blowout in the outside front tire in the middle of a curve at speed will have little that can be reasonably done to keep the car in its own lane under control.

Well now, that's just patently untrue. The stability control system which is now mandatory in new vehicles, and about goddamned time too*, can use all of the other wheels to keep the car under control even if it's running into the barrier at the time. And frankly, if you're driving the car properly, you'll have room for the system to do its thing. When taking a corner, you should only be near the outside of the turn at the start and end of the turn, where your lateral Gs are at a minimum. If you've placed yourself into a situation where you cannot do this, you are not driving defensively, and you are clearly at fault. To be fair, I am sometimes in those situations, but I don't pretend that I didn't put myself into those situations. If you're not prepared to deal with heightened consequences, you don't drive in the fast lane.

It's also fair to mention that some manufacturers' implementations of ASC are going to blow big hairy syphilitic donkeys. I'm not going to name names, and anyway I don't really care because I'm not likely to have a vehicle with any of that fancy stuff any time soon. I have a long way to go before I even get to the point where I'm retrofitting ABS into my W126 300SD, which is on my roadmap... but way out into the future on the other side of a paint job.

* If you're smarter than the car, you should be smart enough to disable driving assistance systems including ABS, TC, and ASC.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43028113)

Stability control can't increase total traction, and having the most laden tire suddenly lose most of its traction will let stability control drive you nose first off the road, rather than sliding sideways and rolling when you hit the grass. ASC gives you a safer failure, but can't stop the failure.

And until they have drive by wire steering, you can still spinout a car, even one with ASC. I know, I've done it. More than once, and in more than one car from different makers.

Re:It just don't make no sense (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about a year ago | (#43028369)

Steel wheels have a low coefficient of friction, and rails aren't as versatile as a road.Traveling up hills would require special consideration, such as a cog railway. Too many problems.

Penismobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026055)

There, I said it.

Re:Penismobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026845)

It does resemble the vehicle Ace and Gary used to tool around in, doesn't it...

Re:Penismobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43027529)

Definitely looks ambiguously gay.

What is the advantage over a regular car? (2)

jandrese (485) | about a year ago | (#43026073)

I fail to see what advantages this vehicle has over a traditional automobile. It seems more like a science demonstration on wheels than a practical vehicle.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026225)

The narrower width means lower frontal area, and drag.
This translates directly into fuel savings.
The reduced number of wheels about halves rolling resistance, going again, into fuel savings.
The reduced weight due to the reduced number of wheels and less structural area, again saves fuel by reducing rolling resistance.
In principle, the gyro - if split in two - could be an interesting energy storage device for a conventional engine.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1)

jandrese (485) | about a year ago | (#43026505)

Those are all great advantages of motorcycles...

I guess this is better than a motorcycle because it's harder to flip? The picture in the article says "Impossible to Flip!", "Impossible to Skid!". I can see where it's harder to flip, but I fail to see how the big heavy gyro and reduced surface area contact between the wheels and the road are going to prevent skidding.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026669)

If it starts to skid it can correct its lean angle to pull out of the skid. On a motorcycle this would lead to a high-side. Properly controlled with a gyro it should be possible to instead ride the potential high-side at the point where you regain traction.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43027663)

Impossible to skid is completely false. Take it for a drive on icy roads, and I'm sure it will skid all over the place. A Gyro car might be a good idea for fairweather driving, but I wouldn't want to drive any 2 wheeled vehicle when there's 12 inches of snow on the ground.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about a year ago | (#43028447)

The reduced number of wheels about halves rolling resistance

Wrong. Rolling resistance in rubber tires is mostly due to flex, which scrubs the tread on the road and also heats the rubber/fabric as it deforms. Rolling restistance depends nonlinearly on many factors including temperature, load, pressure, speed, materials and construction, and surface charateristics. Two wheels instead of four does reduce aerodynamic drag somewhat, even if the tires have to be twice as wide.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026275)

The power used by the gyro is likely less that the power loss due to the differential. Rolling resistance is significantly decreased. Drag is reduced. Suspension is simplified.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43027019)

power used by the gyro is likely less that the power loss due to the differential. Rolling resistance is significantly decreased. Drag is reduced. Suspension is simplified.

Aside from simplifying the suspension, and who cares as long as the weight is still reduced, Volkswagen is about to bring out a two-seat car with over 100 MPG (over 200 MPG in the concept, and they're reputed to be making a car pretty close to it for once, because the styling is inherent to the low drag) and all the features you want, but with four wheels. Today we have LRR tires and CFD so we don't need to use gimmicks like throwing away half the car to achieve these goals.

It's a cool hack! But it's just not practical for much of anyone.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43027243)

The power used by the gyro is likely less that the power loss due to the differential.

Power loss in the differential mechanism is miniscule. It only comes into action when cornering, and only slightly so on typical corners on the open road (like half-a-turn of one wheel relative to the other). Moreover, it is gears in an oil bath, the efficiency of which is very high.

Of course, the differential is usually bolted to the crown wheel of the final drive, with which it shares the oil bath, and turns with it. The crown wheel is being driven by the prop-shaft pinion at hundreds of rpm, and any gear inefficiency will show up more here, not that is much to worry about even so. In any case, this gyro car will also have a final drive crown-and-pinion, or some equivalent device of similar efficiency such as a chain sprocket, as most motor bikes have.

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43026293)

RTFA -- better stability and better mileage. TFA says there are two gyrocars headed for production now, and gyrocars have been built since at least 1914. My grandpa was twenty then, the Cubs won the world series two years earlier, the airplane was only 11 years old.

TFA says financing is what killed all the gyrocars.

Toy friction gyro cars (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about a year ago | (#43026705)

When I was a kid, my aunt gave me a set of toy "friction-drive" gyro cars that were pretty awesome. They were a sort of like normal friction drive toy cars, except their flywheel had a huge gyroscopic moment and were much faster compared to the usual ones. They were just a tad larger than normal matchbox cars, and after revving them up, you could let them go on the floor and they'd skitter along for a good minute or two.

They had 4 wheels, but due to the gyro they could do pretty neat tricks, like drive along sideways on 2 wheels (which was pretty spiff, especially considering that was one of the big stunts they'd always have on movies and TV shows like Night Rider and Dukes of Hazzard). You could also prop them up on their bumpers and they'd just stand there and rumble and precess. Plus they'd just feel weird while holding them in your hands, like when you hold a spinning hard drive.

Would be neat if I could find toys like this for my kids nowadays... I guess this is the closest thing I can google today: http://www.toywiz.com/gxracetarmac.html?gclid=CLepvbuO17UCFSRxQgodDycA2A [toywiz.com]

Re:What is the advantage over a regular car? (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about a year ago | (#43026431)

Two wheels create less friction than four. The car is lighter, smaller. That being said, I don't think anyone believes that this car is superior to a traditional car.

Corvair-ize? (1)

WTFmonkey (652603) | about a year ago | (#43026081)

I'm more shocked by the "Corvair-ize your VW for $146!" headline on that Science & Mechanics magazine cover. Why?

Re:Corvair-ize? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#43026287)

Because the Corvair engine is relatively easy to fit in and more powerful than the VW flat-4 and a lot cheaper than a Porsche flat-6.

Nowadays it is more common to use a Subaru flat-4.

Re:Corvair-ize? (2)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about a year ago | (#43026347)

The VW had a less powerful engine than the Corvair. The Corvair was Chevrolet's attempt to benefit from the success of the Beetle. My next door neighbor still drives his. The engine cooling is better, the engine is a bit bigger, and it's a very neat ride!

Re:Corvair-ize? (1)

stox (131684) | about a year ago | (#43026591)

The turbo-charged variant put out 180HP. The later models were extremely reliable and durable. Good enough to run as an airplane engine, which it was.

Re:Corvair-ize? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43026929)

180 hp? bah, the VW was good with 40 hp. Mine would hit 90 mph, and had the factory installed seat belts (none).

woo-hoo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026085)

Can't wait to see this. The current owner is the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tenn., USA

http://www.lanemotormuseum.org/

Re:woo-hoo! (1)

unrtst (777550) | about a year ago | (#43027035)

I watched the youtube video by it's former owner (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nhLcmLVOb8).
It's now a 3 wheeled vehicle, the gyro is gone, and the motor looks like it's different than what was shown in the scientific america pics. It's also weathered to hell and has a bunch of bolt on parts and stuff. There are some original things left, but it seems like they'd be better off just building a new one from scratch based on previous pictures.

The new rear wheels are really painful to see. Looks like a failed mad max car :-(

Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (5, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | about a year ago | (#43026119)

Lit Motors [litmotors.com] has developed an enclosed motorcycle that uses an active gyro assembly under the driver to keep the thing upright when at a standstill and during sudden accelerations (i.e., during an accident). The gyro mechanism can also be used to assist in cornering.

Re:Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#43026301)

I think I'd prefer the Monotracer [wordpress.com] over the C1. One thing that I don't see with the C1 is what happens when you step out and turn the thing off. Those Gyros can't run indefinitely.

Re:Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#43026351)

Answering my own post. I found this in the C-1 FAQ

The C-1 has “landing gear” which are deployed when parked to keep the vehicle upright.

Re:Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year ago | (#43026409)

It has landing gear / extending legs. I'd like to think that what happens is you stop, deploy the landing gear, and the power management electronics divert the remaining spin from the gyros back into the battery.

Re:Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026781)

Personally, I'd prefer vertically swinging scissor doors for it, like on the Lamborghini, just to make the thing easier to get in and out of when parking on busy city streets:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scissor_doors [wikipedia.org]

Other than that, it looks to be the perfect urban commuter.

Re:Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (1)

Eil (82413) | about a year ago | (#43027039)

I hadn't seen the Lit Motors design yet, but I must say, I am impressed. It would be a never-ending thrill to come up to a stoplight on a 2-wheeled vehicle and watch people's faces when you don't fall over. I do wonder, however, what happens when you're going down the road and get a little light on your dashboard that says the gyros have malfunctioned. You're pretty much going to topple over at your next stop. (Or more likely sooner, since anyone driving this thing is not going to well-practiced at balancing it.)

And, I have to say, showing an animation of an accident within the first 15 seconds of your promotional video is not the best marketing strategy.

There's a company in Europe (don't recall the name) who are also developing an "enclosed motorcycle" type of vehicle, but they don't use gyros... below a certain speed or at too great an agle, there are two large "training wheels" which flip down and right the bike. To me, that seems like a better way to engineer it... It'll be more fuel-efficient to boot since you're not having to constantly power two heavy gyros and their servos.

Re:Gyro-stabilized motorcycle (1)

necro81 (917438) | about a year ago | (#43027247)

There's a company in Europe (don't recall the name) who are also developing an "enclosed motorcycle" type of vehicle, but they don't use gyros... below a certain speed or at too great an agle, there are two large "training wheels" which flip down and right the bike

That's either the Ecomobile [google.com] or Monotracer [google.com] . I first saw that on an ooooold show called Beyond 2000, which aired back when the year 2000 still seemed in the future.

The Ford Gyron: 1961 (1)

Graydyn Young (2835695) | about a year ago | (#43026123)

Just look at that thing. I don't care if it tips over and explodes the first time it gets turned on. I still want one.

Re:The Ford Gyron: 1961 (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year ago | (#43026779)

Sadly, we are pretty much blocked from developing anything really innovative anymore. Not because it isn't possible, but because the regulations on passenger vehicles have basically made all vehicles the same from a mechanical/aerodynamic perspective. Not saying that a lot of those regulations aren't quite important, but the lack of an ability to get exemptions is a big problem. It's why so much of the design innovation actually goes into less than 4 wheel vehicles these days.

I mean, aside from badging and superfical body features (headlight shape, creases in metal, etc) there really isn't anything new done to cars from a form factor perspective.

Re:The Ford Gyron: 1961 (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#43027213)

Sadly, we are pretty much blocked from developing anything really innovative anymore. Not because it isn't possible, but because the regulations on passenger vehicles have basically made all vehicles the same from a mechanical/aerodynamic perspective.

And even more so because businesses are no longer run by visionaries but by people who ask about ROI before doing anything, and think "dare" is a swear word.

Link to Youtube video (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43026661)

I thought someone might be interested in a video [youtube.com] made by one of it's previous owners.

I have an idea (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43026943)

How about making the car smaller and lighter, so that we could use the angular momentum of the two wheels for stabilisation without need for separate gyros. We could call it the motorbike or something.

Re:I have an idea (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year ago | (#43027289)

Don't they fall over when not moving due to lack of angular momentum?

Re:I have an idea (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about a year ago | (#43027577)

Perhaps a device could included that could extend from the side and act as a third point of contact when the vehicle is stationary. We could call this, I dunno, your foot.

Re:I have an idea (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43027571)

(a) A bicycle/motorcycle is certainly stabilized against rapid orientation changes by the wheels, but requires active feedback from the ingrained reflexes of the rider to not tip over. If the rider is surprised by an unexpected situation for which their ingrained reflexes are inadequate, they'll flip the bike. This system automates the stabilizing feedback loop with an electronic tilt sensor system that can probably do a better job (not panicking and thrashing about) in the type of "surprise" slipping/acceleration situations where any but the most highly trained human stunt drivers are likely to flip out.

(b) The gyros (wheels) on a bike need to maintain a fixed orientation to the road, and cannot be independently manipulated over a large range. They also are limited/linked in rotation speed to the forward velocity of the vehicle. Using a separate gyro from the wheels allows said gyro to be pushed about to any orientation as needed by the stabilizing system, and also allows it to run at *much* higher angular momentum (without undue weight increases) than the wheels (providing a lot more torque for correcting the most extreme de-stabilizing forces).

Re:I have an idea (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43028449)

there's bike in switzerland like that.. enclosed so you get the lower drag effect of a proper body and little assist wheels pop out when speed is low... in motion they're pretty much like this thing without gyro and they call them bikes anyways.

Is a uniwheel car possible? (1)

debrain (29228) | about a year ago | (#43027173)

Oddly enough, I was just thinking of the use of gyroscopes in automobiles the other day.

I was wondering if a uni-wheel automobile would be possible with a gyroscope.

The physics is quite beyond me, I am afraid, curious though it is.

not leaning SUX (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#43027619)

why would you NOT want to lean into turns? I've been waiting for years to fly the road with a Persu. Build them already, DAMNIT!

two wheels + winter driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43027943)

not a very good idea.

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