Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Self-balancing, omnidirectional, mecanum-wheeled electric bike

British YouTuber James Bruton has created an electric bike that might be the world’s first driveable, self-balancing, omnidirectional, mecanum-wheeled electrical bike. 

Made using off-the-shelf parts and 3D printing, the bike is certainly unique. The bike balances much like a Segway, but its mecanum wheels can also move in any direction. 

This isn’t James Bruton’s first foray into using Mecanum wheels. Back in the fall of 2023, he released a video of a self-balancing omni-wheel project that could move sideways with ease. 

However, this earlier vehicle had one limitation – it couldn’t move forward or backward. Undeterred, Bruton decided to take a different approach and came up with the driveable, self-balancing, omnidirectional electric bike we see today.

Bruton’s decision to opt for mecanum-styled wheels instead of omni-wheels was a game-changer. With rollers mounted at diagonal angles on the outer edge of the wheel, these wheels offer free-spinning while driving the vehicle. With four mecanum wheels, a vehicle can move in any direction or spin in place seamlessly by controlling the speed and direction of the wheels. 

However, off-the-shelf wheels are usually limited in size. Therefore, to accomplish his ambitious project, Bruton had to design and 3D-print his own set of four wheels with a diameter of 14.2 inches (360 mm).

Also, Bruton employed a combination of timber parts and readily available components, such as ball bearings, to complete the setup. He then positioned the four wheels sideways to ensure that the chassis balance was maintained quickly and easily.

The wheels are powered by electric motors that are linked to toothed rubber belts, allowing them to move in either forward or backward direction as required. Following the installation of a set of rigid handlebars, a bench seat, and an adorable headlight, the Screw Bike was ready to ride.

Upon activation, the bike can maintain its balance and is surprisingly stable once the rider gets on. Similar to a Segway, you can lean it left or right to start moving in either direction.

The bike can be driven forward without affecting its self-balancing ability, and there are separate controls to go backward and spin the bike in place. 

Bruton apparently took a test ride on this bike in his kitchen and then went to a car park to test its capabilities. The bike doesn’t have any suspension and is not recommended for long rides. However, it seems like a fun and interesting ride nonetheless. James Bruton has also released the CAD designs and code for the Screw Bike for anyone who wants to try it out themselves.