Liddiard's prototype wheels are bolted onto a small Toyota, which slides and dances around in a driveway routine that's oddly compelling. Cars just aren't supposed to move the way that this one does. The practical benefits are immediately apparent. If all cars were able to scoot sideways like this, street parking would be forever changed.
Omnidirectional wheels -- and variations like mecanum wheels -- are not a new concept. Several major automakers have developed versions over the years, but they've required specialized chassis design and have never been made widely available on consumer models.
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Liddiard claims that his design can be attached to any standard axle and can handle weights and speeds of standard wheel/tire configurations. "Unlike other omni capable wheels, my wheels do not require the vehicle to be built around them," he writes in the post.
The YouTube page is short on technical specifics, but the video is plenty convincing. The omnidirectional wheel appears to work like previous iterations we've seen, in which small discs around the outside rim of the wheel proper roll the wraparound tire sideways. The immediate question is how the driver actually controls this function from inside the car.
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In close-up images of the tires themselves, they appear to lack traditional tread and in fact look like old-fashioned inner tubes. Liddiard says the wheels can be used in all weather and road conditions, but he also concedes that what we see onscreen is ultimately just a proof-of-concept prototype.
In any case, you have to admire the guy's entrepreneurial moxie. Liddiard is openly sharing the video and calling on viewers to get the word out to interested manufacturers and partners. If he can solve parallel parking, I say we pull funds from 1,000 randomly selected U.S. hedge fund managers and send it up to Canada, in the spirit of proper wealth distribution. That would be a nice gesture.
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