Spherical wheels such as those seen on the Audi cars in the movie iRobot along with my interest in the automotive industry inspired me to give some thought on the spherical wheel. In my mind the benefit of having spherical wheels on a car is improved maneuverability. The spherical wheel would likely be less efficient than a standard wheel and would likely have less grip surface area.
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my ideas for this project consisted of ways to arrange magnets so that
the car could get both lift and thrust from one magnet arrangement. This
picture depicts some of these thoughts, as does the next picture.
Halbach arrays fascinated me for a while and while not drawn here I did at one point give them some consideration in the design of the spherical wheel.
The basis of the idea was to have a magnetic structure within the wheel and rings of magnets outside the wheel that would be oriented perpendicularly to the intended direction of movement.
I thought that the inner magnet structure might consist of a geodesic dome style arrangement of individual magnets. In the end it would kind of look like a soccer ball.
The top center sphere better illustrates the concept of how the thrust
would be created. The magnetic disks spinning next to the wheel will
interact with the magnetic structure within the wheel and cause the
sphere to rotate in the same direction as the disc.
Another idea I had is shown in the lower left. My idea was to have an internal structure that rested on bearings so it didn't rotate with the wheel. To make the wheel roll forward, the internal structure would rotate forward. This would cause the center of gravity of the wheel to move ahead of the contact point of the wheel and create a rotational moment.
A car with spherical wheels would be very hard to stop. Friction is much easier to control than levitating magnets.
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