Single Wheel Transport.

Introduction: Single Wheel Transport.

I'm a student studying engineering at Canterbury University in New Zealand. with a passion for re...

I have seen some one wheeled devices around and this is my ideas of using a single wheel as transport. The overall diameter is 600mm and can be ridden with a foot either side of the wheel so you are facing forward or could be ridden sideways with both feet inside the hoop, a bit like a skateboard. All the designs have been done on autodesk 123D Design.

The main wheel is the motor its self, the magnetic hub as a tyre around the outside and the coils on the inner rim which you stand on. The large diameter of the motor means that it will have a relatively high torque for the power put in. It will also allow more room under the feet supports for batteries.

To support the outer rim without a center shaft, there is two rows of rollers around the outside of the inner rim, this means the rim has lots of support and so will hopefully be highly durable.

The turning of a one wheeled vehicle is just done by leaning, like on a skateboard or similar,  to stay upright the gyroscopic force of the spinning tyre is used like on a bike. To stop tipping over backwards or forwards while riding electronic gyros can be used to control the motor and add stability.

The batteries that power the whole system would best be lithium batteries. The are expensive but coming down in price. The batteries will be housed in the foot support with a charging port on the side and charger built in.

As you are riding there will be a hand grip control that will control the throttle, display battery level and sensitivity of the gyros that keep it stable.

The bulk of this can be made out of 5 or 3 mm aluminum plate, the rims would be cast aluminum with cast resin around the outside for the coils to be set into. On the outer rim it could either be a cast plastic or  a rubber tyre on the aluminum rim with the magnets glued or cast in.
The rollers could be ball races on a shaft with no modifications needed.

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    20 Discussions

    People have made the steering work and at high speeds too


    The inherent flaw with single wheel vehicles is that they are difficult to steer (much moreso at higher speeds). If you can solve that you've got a million dollar idea.

    5 replies

    I see your point, but for say a coin which is basically the same thing will roll in a circle when it leans to the side. At high speeds the gyroscopic forces created by the wheel are greater and i have no idea how this would affect the steering so i'm really keen to try this now for real.

    Possibilities to overcome lack of steering:

    1) Use parts of the vehicle (ie Battery) to lean with the rider, giving you more influence over the wheels tilt

    2) Use one wheel but wide enough in width, that you can include two separate bladders inside the tire (Left/Right) then use the rotation of the wheel to compress air and have the bladders be inflated/deflated to the distort the overall shape of the tire to help steering.

    3) Have three wheels very close so it looks like one wheel and:

    a) Have their speeds vary

    b) tilt/stagger them in relation to each other to effect steering using mini hydraulics or pneumatic devices.

    c) use the rotation of the wheels to produce compressed air that is then used for air brakes to slow down one of the wheels, or the forces from the compression of the air itself slows one of the wheels down.

    I'm very iffy on the the third possible solution. But the first two aren't setting off any red flags.

    Have fun!

    When riding my unicycle all I have to do is lean into the turn. The closer I get my body to the center of gravity the tighter I can make that turn. I'm able to do a 180 degree turn on my road, only using one side of the road. I'm only going about 8 mph, though, so I'm sure a faster speed would require a larger turning radius.

    I would think that the difference is on a unicycle the persons weight is not only on the top of the circle, but the main difference is that with the wheel one would sit below the top and also inside the circle. In my thoughts none of the two modes of transportation have much if anything in common.

    "...can be ridden with a foot either side of the wheel so you are facing forward or could be ridden sideways with both feet inside the hoop..." You wouldn't be inside the circle, you'd be on top. The only difference I can see is that you are not turning pedals to go forward; you use a throttle to move. Going at a much faster speed than I can muster on my Unicycle, a mere 8mph, I would infer that the turning radius of this "Single Wheel Transport" would be much larger unless you were to slow down before you turned to keep a tighter turning radius.

    Leaning on a skateboard makes the four wheels pivot slightly to allow turning. leaning on a one wheel vehicle will continue to drive strait - or force the rider into a tighter and tighter radius until crashing.

    2 replies

    The difference is you have more weight or mass, so your influence over the wheels of a skateboard or unicycle in much greater.

    With a one wheeled vehicle you don't have as much influence since you are a small rider inside the much more massive wheel, the faster it spins the less influence you'll have.

    Sometimes initial pursuits dont come into their use until it is abandoned and later picked up for re-examination eh? What I think is gettin' missed is a powered efficient wheel design ...this idea not only works well but looks really cool ...with multiple wheels!
    a motor cycle for instance... forks on the battery/motor base/drive , same on the rear.
    no gas tank nor engine taking up heavy frames eh? can have that one...on the house.

    1 reply

    You may have a valid idea, but having one wheel and no frame, means its far smaller and portable. Research Yikebike, It is a New Zealand company who builds electric bikes with a similar motor built into the hub of the wheel, similar to what you are thinking of. Having a frame like your idea, means you could hold more batteries for longer distances as well as you could have more power with two wheels, which could be an advantage.

    I have seen an identical product down to the red and blue coloring. I like the idea, but you just copied it. However, I admire your effort into redesigning this product.

    5 replies

    O wow, really?! That kinda sucks, I didn't copy it so if there is an identical product, i haven't seen it at all. :/

    There are a number of one wheel designs out there powered and unpowered . But so far none of them have caught on . Of course your design looks like the others , they all have one wheel . Ask yourself what you can do that will make people want to use your design . Something about making it practical transportation or fun to use or both . Good luck and keep your imagination going .

    I wasn't going to post this because I didn't want to undermine or disrupt what benmurton is doing. But you have kinda forced me to. Unless you have seen a different product, his design is nowhere near the same as this one. And it has successfully gone to market. (it's about 1800 bucks)

    It also shows that Ben is on the right track about the lean-steering.

    Don't let this deter you Ben. You were on the right track.

    It seems to be a couple of years old. Although I just saw this for the first time, a few days ago. And I am always looking at stuff like this.