This car has no engine, no transmission and no differential: it weighs half of a normal car: each of its four wheels has an electric motor that allows it to contribute to the movement of the vehicle and to a quick change of direction: at the current state, however, requires advanced motion control or is it really difficult (not to say impossible) to drive it.
Junmin Wang is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio State University, and his team is building and testing the algorithms necessary for the onboard computer of a car like this to make it stable, receiving and analyzing data 100 times per second from the wheels. from the pedals and the steering wheel to coordinate each element and return a harmonic and safe movement.
"Without coordinated control it would be impossible to manage such a vehicle," says Wang.
With a valid control system (a bit like it happens for smaller and more manageable vehicles, think of the Segway) a car with 4 electric motors in the wheels would be the perfect city-car: efficient, maneuverable, without emissions.
The work of Wang's team began 4 years ago with the granting of a research grant worth € 350.000 and continues today, with a vehicle weighing 800 kg which guarantees energy efficiency. The 7.5kW motors are powered by a 15kW lithium ion battery and connected via cable to a central computer. It is not yet possible to know the real autonomy of the vehicle (the team guarantees 8 to 10 hours of driving for a single charge, but the tests so far have not been reliable), and above all the date of a possible commercialization.
According to Wang, everything will depend on the improvement of the computational skills and on the improved algorithms: in our opinion we will not see things like this around for 5-10 years, better to be realistic.