EDWARD - a diwheel student-built vehicle that really works
Designed and built by a team of students from Australia's University of Adelaide, EDWARD is a futuristic, purely electric dicycle - also known as a diwheel. Although it looks like transportation from the realm of science fiction, the vehicle is fully operational and can be controlled with surprising precision.
EDWARD is an acronym which stands for Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping. A diwheel is similar to a monowheel, in which the rider's seat is located inside the wheel. However, in the case of EDWARD, there are two axially aligned wheels instead of one, and the seat is located between them. Mechanical Engineering students have been working on the project since 2009, and it now seems to be close to completion - the designers have achieved quite a high level of controllability and stability.
One might think that such a diwheel design could make it hard to keep the rider's seat level, especially when using the brakes or accelerating (the so-called "gerbiling" effect, in which the rider rocks like a gerbil in an exercise wheel). However, due to "in-built lateral stability and slosh control," EDWARD allows riders to move in any direction, while their seat stays in a fixed position. The control system calculates and sets the best level of the seat after each movement.
EDWARD's maximum speed is 25 mph (40 kph).
While regular upright riding is entirely possible, users can also ride the vehicle upside-down, should they wish. Controlling an inverted ride is made possible through the use of a combined swingup and inversion controller, the EDWARD team explains.
The vehicle is driven via a joystick, and there's also a touchscreen-based control panel. The rider's safety is achieved through a five-point racing harness, that keeps them from falling out.
It looks like EDWARD might become a really fun attraction at amusement parks, at first. However, it's possible that the vehicle will prove to be much more useful, and could ultimately become an eco-friendly, silent and safe mean of transportation in the future.
Take a look at it in action in the video below.