Triple Rotacaster commercial industrial omni wheel

The Orbitwheel‘s concept is basic, but with the wheels whirling around your feet, you are capable of countless tricks and maneuvers that can be as complex and creative as you can come up with.

  • Wheels around your feet

Video: Omniwheel demonstration (0:41) no sound

Instead of four wheels for each foot Orbitwheel has just one. Multiple wheels provide stability and good tracking. Orbitwheel relies on the user to provide the balance between two feet. Since it does not track in a particular direction, a skilled user can change direction with ease – better for doing more tricks.

A stable engineering system, like a traditional 4-wheel skate, will go back to its original state after a disturbance is introduced. That limits the tricks one can do. An unstable system is just the opposite. Unstable systems allow user more control options (tricks and maneuvers). However, it is more difficult to use. For example, modern fighter jets are inherently unstable, thus more maneuverable. They rely on computers to keep the plane stable.

Engineering concepts:

  • Stability: Will an Orbitwheel stand on its own? Does it track straight? Does it resist directional change?
  • Friction: What is effect of friction between the wheel and the ground to the stability of the wheel? Is there an optimum friction? What will happen if there is no friction (say on ice) or a lot of friction? How about the friction between the inner and the outer wheel?
  • Strength of material: How many materials are used in an Orbitwheel? What are the requirements of materials used in each part? How does engineers decide the strength of materials needed? How does engineers quantify the strength of an engineering material?

Additional thoughts:

  • Is this device easy to learn and easy to use?
  • Any safety considerations?
  • What are the potential weaknesses of Orbitwheel in comparison to roller skates/roller blades?
  • Will an Orbiwheel last as long as roller skates? Why?
  • Do you think it is easy to manufacture?
  • Can we design an Orbitsphere? Can it be done?
  • Will a sphere be better than a wheel for maneuverability?

Questions correspond to the steps in the [/Engineering%20Design%20Process Engineering Design Process].

  • Ask (What? Ask questions, understand the need, identify the problem, define)
    Roller blades (inline skates) are fun but they are not highly maneuverable.
    Q: What is the primary function of inline skates? What design elements make them good transportation?
  • Imagine (So what? Imagine, brainstorm, explore, discover)
    Q: What characteristics are needed for tricks and maneuverability? How is this different from moving forward only?
  • Plan (Now what? Plan, design)
    Q: What are some of the special problems associated with having only one wheel on each foot?
  • Create (Do it. Create, try it out)
    Q: What materials are used for the Omniwheels?
  • Improve (If this then what? Improve, make it better)
    Q: How are Omniwheels an improvement over regular inline skates?

Engineering vocabulary, concepts

  • stability, maneuverable, tracking, balance, control, unstable system

Show and Tell
Now it is your turn. Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • find examples of stable and unstable systems
  • work out the factors that allow an unstable system to be more maneuverable than a stable one.

Learn more…