18-wheel-drive electric ATV: Ride the flying eyebrow
Finnish company 18 Wheels has prototyped one of the most bizarre off-roaders we've encountered: an electric all-terrain vehicle with ... well, the perfect number of wheels for a company with that name. Which is lucky, really. Imagine if it only had 16!
People would be asking for their money back. They'd be all like "hey, I thought this thing was supposed to have 18 wheels, where's me other wheels?"
Fortunately, 18 Wheels has ensured this isn't going to happen, by supplying its machine with exactly 18 wheels. Although you do have to wonder what they'll do if, during testing, they find out that 16 wheels works better. Or for that matter, 26. These would be trivial issues for a company not named after a number of wheels, but they could be existential for these guys.
Every one of the 18 wheels on 18 Wheels' 18-wheeler is not only independently suspended, but electrically driven, thus making it a happy little caterpillar when churning over rocky, uneven ground.
The 2022 prototype, as shown in the video below, hangs its wheels on springy, bent bits of metal, trailing backwards as the vehicle creeps forward, and doing so well enough to roll right over small logs.
The next-gen machine, as shown toward the end of the video above, aims to test a very different suspension system, in which each wheel gets a more complex suspension arm hanging out sideways from the center of the vehicle, as well as its own monoshock.
The steering system will apparently make all these wheels do side-crunches to turn. Hopefully there's some electronics involved rather than some brutal levered contraption, and perhaps the outside wheels can be driven quicker than the inside ones to avoid this thing having a turning circle like a cruise liner.
These suspension arms actually tilt forward. 18 Wheels says the design will roll happily over obstacles up to 20 cm (7.9 in) high "without loss of speed," but honestly, we're more interested in what happens when the obstacle is a bit higher than that.
One wonders if there was any "loss" of "speed" during the design process here. Twenty centimeters is the kind of bump a regular ol' dirt bike rider might look at and go "hmm, do I just roll over this, or chuck a wheelie, or see if I can get a bit of air out of it?"
So it's unclear exactly what kind of problem the 18 Wheels 18-wheeler is trying to solve with its 18 wheels, other than providing your local suspension shop owner with a week in the Maldives every time you have to service all those shocks.
Fear not, the company's CEO, CTO and Founder, Eldar, says "with a solid educational background as a physicist, I possess a deep understanding of the principles that govern the physical world." He's also prepared to deploy his "comprehensive understanding of cutting-edge solutions to drive operational excellence."
In Finland, they have a saying: "eteenpäin sanoi mummo lumessa." Roughly translated, it means "forward, said granny in the snow," and I can't help but think it somehow applies here. We can't wait to see the next prototype.
Source: 18 Wheels