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Transportation Technology

1967 Gyro-X Car To Be Restored 140

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the future-sure-is-cool dept.
Zothecula writes "Back in 1967, California-based Gyro Transport Systems built a prototype vehicle known as the Gyro-X. The automobile had just two wheels, one in front and one in the back and, as the car's name implies, it utilized a built-in gyroscope to remain upright when not moving. Although its developers hoped to take the Gyro-X into production, the company went bankrupt, and the one-and-only specimen of the car became an orphan. For much of the past 40-plus years, that car has passed from owner to owner, its condition deteriorating along the way. Now, it's about to be restored to its former (weird) glory."
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1967 Gyro-X Car To Be Restored

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:09PM (#43025877)

    The gyro monorail [wikipedia.org] has to be one of my favorite bits of almost-sci-fi technology. Real enough to be prototyped, but not quite practical enough to be deployed (yet).

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:18PM (#43025995) Homepage Journal

    Cars suck anyway. Instead of turning cars into motorcycles and making them less safe in the process (one flat tire on a four-wheeled vehicle is dramatically less serious than one flat tire on a two-wheeled vehicle; now consider the case of two flat tires!) we should take the rubber off of them and put them on rails.

    If you use one hanging rail, then you don't even need any stabilization. Or if you use one ribbon-shaped rail, but then you still need more wheels to ride it (on the sides.)

    Regardless, it's a cool restoration project, you just wouldn't catch me driving it daily. And that's the only kind of restoration project I'm interested in, not being filthy rich. My 1982 W126 300SD continues to improve.

  • LIT Motors C-1 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:23PM (#43026079)

    San Francisco startup LIT Motors has its upcoming C-1, which is a 2-wheeled enclosed electric vehicle that likewise uses a gyroscopic flywheel to stay upright:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65GUZCxfMN0 [youtube.com]

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:32PM (#43026181)

    I see you've been downrated, but it is a very valid point. What problem does this solve without adding more?

    I'm not too familiar with this car, and I haven't seen the details yet, so I'm asking here:

    1. Is this gyro going to serve dual-purpose as a flywheel?
    2. What is the overall benefit? Is this mainly to eliminate the drag from extra wheels and thus improve fuel economy?

    I could certainly see how this thing would be really cool if you used it as a flywheel and took advantage of regenerative braking to suppliment it's spinning, but as usual, I'm always nervous about mechanical stores of energy. Chemical stores are dangerous too, but for the most part they can be protected/disabled in the event of an accident. With flywheels, that energy IS going to be released, and you never want it all at once.

    Am I off-base here? Please correct me if I am.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:46PM (#43026339)

    Instead of turning cars into motorcycles and making them less safe in the process (one flat tire on a four-wheeled vehicle is dramatically less serious than one flat tire on a two-wheeled vehicle; now consider the case of two flat tires!)...

    I don't know if it's true a gyro car is less safe than a four-wheeled car, but I do want to point out that you're reasoning is flawed because you don't account for how much less likely it would be to get a flat tire in the first place.

    For example, instinctively people think that two-engine airplanes are safer than single-engine ones, because the plane can still fly after one engine failure. Any pilot will tell you the opposite is true, however. All else being equal, a plane with two engines is twice as likely to have an engine failure, and a two-engine plane flying with one engine is less safe than a single-engine plane with its one engine working.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:46PM (#43026341)

    At the time (early 20th century), rail speeds were limited by a side-to-side oscillation that the single rail eliminated. It also automatically banked in turns, making sharper turns more comfortable for passengers. Both problems have since been mostly solved, without resorting to the need for "train"ing wheels. Sorry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @02:22PM (#43026649)

    Swiss Gyro Bus [wikipedia.org] Not just prototyped but actually providing commercial service. Am jealous of my father who was lucky enough to ride them during business trips to Switzerland.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @02:23PM (#43026663)

    1. How would it avoid flat tires?

    You have more tires in the road with 4 wheels than one. The chances of at least one of them going flat is therefore higher, since you're covering more surface area with the road. There may be other factors, I'm not an expert in the field, and I wasn't even disagreeing with your premise that the car is more dangerous, it could very well be. I'm simply pointing out that your explanation is too simplistic and you need to know all the probabilities at hand before making that determination.

    2. What do pilots base that on? and why would they be qualified to make such a determination? As far as I can tell the FAA disagrees considering the rules favoring many engined planes for commercial use.

    Pilots base that on their training. It's part of what you study for your written private pilot's test. That said, in attempting to make my point, I will admit to oversimplifying the situation, and there are a lot more factors involved. If you're making an overseas flight, or are flying over a mountain range, the additional range given to you in case of engine failure is clearly going to make a twin-engine plane safer, because you're four times less likely to suffer a complete engine failure, and there's no place to land if you're only gliding. I don't know what FAA rules you were referring to in particular, but I assume they relate to those types of flights.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @02:41PM (#43026825) Homepage Journal

    I don't know if it's true a gyro car is less safe than a four-wheeled car, but I do want to point out that you're reasoning is flawed because you don't account for how much less likely it would be to get a flat tire in the first place.

    Do tell, how much less likely is it to get a flat tire in the first place? Let's say it's half as likely, which is almost certainly wrong but it's something to start with. Now, let's consider the failure mode. It's dramatically worse, especially if you lose the front tire at speed. Is it twice as bad? Could be, since you can't meaningfully steer. You might not fall over.

    For example, instinctively people think that two-engine airplanes are safer than single-engine ones, because the plane can still fly after one engine failure. Any pilot will tell you the opposite is true, however. All else being equal, a plane with two engines is twice as likely to have an engine failure, and a two-engine plane flying with one engine is less safe than a single-engine plane with its one engine working.

    The comparison is well-intended but not congruent. A better comparison would be comparing a twin-engined plane to a quad-engined plane. I don't know if it's still true, but it was true that most twin-engine planes couldn't even cruise on two engines. However, most quad-engined planes can cruise on three engines, and that long has been true. Of course, engines are not tires and so there's never going to be better than false congruence here, anyway.

    If a plane is built such that it has two engines and can cruise on one, then even though you've increased the rate of failure (you have not doubled it, due to maintenance and inspection regimes commonly employed with aircraft) you've decreased the rate of catastrophic failure, which is what I was on about in the first place. Having four wheels is good. When a motorcyclist hits a patch of sand that only covers half the road they go farther off their path than when a four-wheeled vehicle travels over it with two of its wheels. And when the drift covers the whole road, the car is inherently more stable as well, not least because today it will have yaw control and it will have four wheels to work with in order to make corrections.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @02:46PM (#43026881)
    FAA favors 4-engine as "multi-engine" and only recently (well, last 20 years or so) approved any 2-engine plane for extended range operation. With 4, you can lose one on the right wing, then turn the other on the right wing up to full and the two on the left to 50% and not get inherent yaw. Most 2-engine planes with an engine out will have control issues that could lead to bigger problems. The FAA still prefers 4-engine to 2-engine, but the makers say their planes are safe, and the carriers want the reduced operational costs of 2, so 2 it is, safety is a secondary consideration to the commercial ones.

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