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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-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> 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 Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:20PM (#43026019)
      Seems to be a wasteful way to keep something that is in contact with the ground upright.
      • 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 Anonymous Coward

          Reducing the minimum turning radius at high velocity.
          I'd imagine it would allow the train to tilt while turning at high velocity using centripetal force to stay on the tracks.
          Afaik there are some conventional trains that can tilt to move the center of gravity around but nothing that comes close to what a gyro monorail could do.

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          1. Is this gyro going to serve dual-purpose as a flywheel?

          Yes. IIRC someone did the math and the optimum was to go for strength and speed rather than weight in the flywheel for energy storage.

        • Why does it have to solve a problem? If you are on Slashdot, surely you can understand that some things have a 'geek factor' and people want to buy or make one because of that.

        • by CAIMLAS (41445)

          2. What is the overall benefit? Is this mainly to eliminate the drag from extra wheels and thus improve fuel economy?

          Personally, I can't see a benefit to a car like this other than "it looks like it's on the Jetsons". Road noise reduction, maybe? Reduced vehicle drag (though obviously not in this early design)? But then you've got a gyro spinning at all times very nearby, and a significant single point of failure which says "sliding off the road sideways at 50+mph".

          You're also going to have a significant reduction in traction control with something like this, not to mention decreased handling control (large, balanced mass

      • 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.

      • Every extra point of contact adds significant rolling (or sliding) friction.
        It's perfectly plausible that the energy cost of a ludicrous mechanism to minimize points of contact could end up more efficient than the straightforward solution of "more wheels".

        That said, I'm skeptical of the big single flywheel working out well, since it seems like it would have a crazy effect on the handling (like old rotary biplanes, which could turn tighter in one direction because of the gyroscopic effect of the engine on th

        • by cusco (717999)
          You may need to explain to most readers that old rotary engines are not like the new ones. Originally the engine itself spun around and the crankshaft was stationary. The prop was bolted directly to the engine. Made for some interesting flying characteristics, IIRC the Fokker Triplane could turn to the left so fast that it could rip the top wing off.
      • by Grayhand (2610049)

        Seems to be a wasteful way to keep something that is in contact with the ground upright.

        Less weight, less friction, less fuel used, fewer worn out tires. Once a flywheel is spinning it doesn't take much to keep it going. There are equal downsides like accidents can get iffy and it's more parts to wear out. They really are quite stable. There are major advantages in cornering if it's an active system.

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

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 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 oodaloop (1229816)
      That's in TFA btw. IMBNH!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anyone interested in this kind of vehicle might be interested in the Peraves Ecomobile [peraves.ch] that's been in limited production and sale for several years.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      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 li

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        1. How would it avoid flat tires?

        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.

        • 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.

          • Not sure why you believe this is so. Obviously, you don't have much experience in aerospace/aeronautics engineering.

            There is a reason why Navy fighter squad does not have ANY single engine fighters like F-16. It is a requirement that all fighters for Navy have a dual engine. 777 had to go through special testing process to prove that it was just as sea-worthy as 4 engine aircrafts like 747.

            You have no clue what you are talking about.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I believe the line about more engines meaning more chances for something to break is a Charles Lindbergh quote. If your goal is to make one record-breaking flight over the ocean, you want the simplest, lightest design possible. If he flew a two-engine plane and one engine broke, the remaining engine wouldn't do him much good: he'd not be able to reach an airport anyway. Either he made it with no engine failures, or he wasn't going to make it.

          Whereas, if you're running (or regulating) an airline, you a

        • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @02:43PM (#43026855)
          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.

          The standard saying is:
          "I'd rather have an engine fail, rather than have the engine fail.

          You can probably limp home on one. You can't limp home on none
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          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 red
        • by garyebickford (222422) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .cib73rag.> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @03:06PM (#43027037)

          It's been a couple of decades since I took flying lessons, but here goes: Engines tend to die at the worst possible moments, when they are under the most stress. This is during the takeoff phase, when you are still relatively close to the ground. In a twin-engine plane, when one of the engines dies, it has two effects - one is that the plane suddenly has both a terrific off-center thrust and an increase of drag from the stopped propeller, causing yaw (rotation on the vertical axis), and the other is that the loss of the balancing effect of counter-rotating engines and the yaw-induced loss of lift on the slower wing drastically increases the tendency to roll (rotation on the line-of-flight axis). All in all, the loss of performance is much more than just the loss of thrust.

          So when one engine dies, the pilot has a couple of seconds to do the right thing, or else the plane suddenly flips and dives sidewise (like those videos of fighter planes peeling off for a run at the enemy ship) the 300-1000 feet to the ground - too enough altitude to recover. The 'right thing' is pretty complicated according to this [skybrary.aero]. Some of it is counter-intuitive (so should be practiced during training). If you're fast, and lucky, you'll be able to go around and land.

      • by JMandingo (325160)

        a two-engine plane flying with one engine is less safe than a single-engine plane with its one engine working.

        If the engine configuration of the two-engine plane is push-pull then the thrust provided by the remaining engine stays in the center line. Add to that the comparison you forgot - a two-engine plane minus one engine has more range to find a runway to make an emergency landing on, whereas a single-engine plane minus one engine becomes a poor glider.

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        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.

        And you also ignore extremely important factors.

        You need to quantify the "safety" of the fi

        • From flight training a long time ago, engine failures tend to happen on takeoff. At that moment a two-engine plane that suddenly loses one engine is probably in more trouble than a single-engine plane with no engine working. The single has a reasonable chance of gliding somewhere and making a dead-stick landing. Unless the pilot does exactly the right things, very quickly (two-three seconds), the plane is likely to flip sidewise and drop out of the sky, with not enough altitude to correct the situation.

          • by nedlohs (1335013)

            I don't disagree. My Kerbal Space Program planes are much safer when they have a single engine - the two engine variants tend to flat spin when one engine flames just before the other out due to lack of air at stupid altitudes, and with essentially no air the control surfaces don't work either. And one engine snapping off at take off always ends badly too.

            Of course it has the worst aerodynamic model I've ever had fun playing.

      • 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 drsmithy (35869)

          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.

          I'm fairly sure all multi-engined planes must be able to rema

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        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.

        That's hardly an equitable comparison.

        Would the average pilot rather be in a twin-engined p

        • Would the average pilot rather be in a twin-engined plane with one failed engine or a single-engined plane with one failed engine ?

          You're missing the part where by flying a twin-engine plane, you're increasing your chances of having an engine failure. So you're more likely to be in that twin-engined plane with one failed engine than you are to be in a single-engined plane with one failed engine.

          To answer your question, it depends. If I'm making a cross-ocean trip, the twin-engine is actually safer, because of that reason, and because the chances of both engines failing is less likely. If I'm skydiving, I'm probably safer in the sing

          • by drsmithy (35869)

            You're missing the part where by flying a twin-engine plane, you're increasing your chances of having an engine failure. So you're more likely to be in that twin-engined plane with one failed engine than you are to be in a single-engined plane with one failed engine.

            Why would any given engine be more likely to fail in a twin engine configuration than a single-engine configuration ?

            You're abusing statistics.

            • You're missing the part where by flying a twin-engine plane, you're increasing your chances of having an engine failure. So you're more likely to be in that twin-engined plane with one failed engine than you are to be in a single-engined plane with one failed engine.

              Why would any given engine be more likely to fail in a twin engine configuration than a single-engine configuration ?

              You're abusing statistics.

              I'm just trying to explain things calmly here, but for politeness sake, in order to avoid putting your foot in your mouth, you really need to think about your understanding of statistics before you call someone else out for abusing it.

              Let's think about coin-flipping. The probability of a coin flipping tails is 50%. Now let's flip two coins. Coin A, and Coin B. The probability of P(A | tails) = 50%, P(B | tails) = 50%. Just like you were flipping a single coin, because they're independent events. Now l

              • by drsmithy (35869)

                You're abusing statistics because you're arguing that a twin-engined plane has a higher chance of one engine failing (which is quite reasonable and probably true), then concluding that twin-engined planes are less safe based on the untested assumption that one engine failing in a twin-engined plane has the same consequences as one engine failing in a single-engined plane.

                While the probability of a twin-engined plane suffering a single engine failure is higher, the probability of a twin-engined plane finding

                • Relax, man. [slashdot.org] I didn't mean this to be a general and detailed analysis. I was pointing out that the reasoning for assuming 4 wheels are safer than 2 was flawed. I admit I oversimplified things and explained it further in that post. It depends on the circumstances. Clearly if you're going to be making an overseas trip, or going over mountains, a twin-engine is preferable, because being able to travel for a longer time in said emergency condition is important when there's no place to land. If you're not g

                  • by drsmithy (35869)

                    I didn't mean this to be a general and detailed analysis.
                    I'm not doing any sort of "detailed" analysis, I'm pointing out that your conclusion is based on a false equivalence a child could identify.

                    I'm pretty relaxed about it, as well.

                    If you're not going to be doing that, you'd rather just minimize the chances of entering any emergency condition.
                    I'd rather minimise my chances of finding myself in an involuntary glider.

                    If any actual pilots want to chime in an explain why it's safer to be in a twin-engined

                    • I'm not doing any sort of "detailed" analysis, I'm pointing out that your conclusion is based on a false equivalence a child could identify.

                      I'm pretty relaxed about it, as well.

                      Considering you start almost every post with an insult such as "you're abusing statistics" and "a false equivalent a child could identify" instead of just making your point, I assumed you were pretty livid. Sorry, I guess.

                      If any actual pilots want to chime in an explain why it's safer to be in a twin-engined plane running on one engine than a single-engined plane running on no engines, I'm happy to listen. However, from a passenger perspective, I'd much rather be in the former situation than the latter.

                      I am an actual pilot. The full disclosure with that statement is that I'm not rated to flying multiengine planes, and that I am a pretty young pilot. I've only logged 52 hours. So, if a more experienced pilot comes in and tells me I'm full of shit, and explains why, I'll most certainly

                    • by drsmithy (35869)

                      The problem I was attempting to point out with your analogy is that a drive failure in a 2-drive mirror is the exact same as running a non-raid box with one drive.
                      No, it's not.

                      The server will keep functioning, sure (though performance may be impaired). But a twin-engined plane on one engine will keep flying as well.

                      However, the SLA defining your server's purpose has been compromised, because there is now a greater risk of outage and data loss. Similarly, a multi-engine plane with a failed engine is in an

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      You're obviously not a motorcycle rider. I've had my rear tire go flat, and handling "felt" weird (it took more input to get the same result), but traction wasn't greatly affected. In car tires, the sidewall flex is what causes most of the issues with flat tires, but motorcycle tires essentially have no sidewalls, so the issues are completely different. I haven't had a flat front, but a flat rear on a motorcycle was as safe or safer than a single flat rear on a car. At least with one flat on a bike you
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        You're obviously not a motorcycle rider.

        Nope, but I do know a bunch of them, and so I know how squirrely it can be when a tire fails, especially at speed, and especially the front tire. Sometimes tires fail in a polite and orderly manner, and sometimes they basically disappear (often in fact departing the wheel at high speed in a psuedorandom direction) and leave you wondering where the hell they went and what all those sparks are about.

        It's true that tire alternatives exist, due to a sibling comment I had a fun time reading about tweels which ha

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Well, there's a difference between a "flat" and a "blowout" and you can only discuss one in isolation from the other. A FWD car having a blowout in the outside front tire in the middle of a curve at speed will have little that can be reasonably done to keep the car in its own lane under control.
        • Steel wheels have a low coefficient of friction, and rails aren't as versatile as a road.Traveling up hills would require special consideration, such as a cog railway. Too many problems.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Cars suck anyway.

      At first read, I thought, "Quite evidently you are a statist and lack imagination or drive." Either that, or you simply haven't driven the right car. Then I read:

      And that's the only kind of restoration project I'm interested in, not being filthy rich. My 1982 W126 300SD continues to improve.

      I stand corrected. Bravo, sir. Bravo. I was seriously considering picking an '86 up not long ago, but the initial cost of having to redo the whole suspension was a bit much at the time. I've been keeping my eye out for one where it's already been converted, preferably with Chevy parts... I ended up getting a CUCV instead (I wanted/needed the 4WD):

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Personally, the only way I can see "private cars on railways" work is if it's as a portage type service - probably as a quasi-portage type service for vehicles.

        I see the ideal being as a sort of combo. You have low-speed rail for cities, suburbs, et cetera. You use roads in the sticks. You have high-speed rail between cities. Low-speed rail vehicles can be loaded onto high-speed rail vehicles, hopefully by being driven onto a car with some rail on it, and then moved between cities at a pace. And everyone stays in their vehicles, for crash protection.

        Conceivably you could simply swap cabs onto different trucks, the trucks are the property of the rail system, and yo

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:23PM (#43026073) Homepage Journal
    I fail to see what advantages this vehicle has over a traditional automobile. It seems more like a science demonstration on wheels than a practical vehicle.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The power used by the gyro is likely less that the power loss due to the differential. Rolling resistance is significantly decreased. Drag is reduced. Suspension is simplified.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        power used by the gyro is likely less that the power loss due to the differential. Rolling resistance is significantly decreased. Drag is reduced. Suspension is simplified.

        Aside from simplifying the suspension, and who cares as long as the weight is still reduced, Volkswagen is about to bring out a two-seat car with over 100 MPG (over 200 MPG in the concept, and they're reputed to be making a car pretty close to it for once, because the styling is inherent to the low drag) and all the features you want, but with four wheels. Today we have LRR tires and CFD so we don't need to use gimmicks like throwing away half the car to achieve these goals.

        It's a cool hack! But it's just n

      • by nukenerd (172703)

        The power used by the gyro is likely less that the power loss due to the differential.

        Power loss in the differential mechanism is miniscule. It only comes into action when cornering, and only slightly so on typical corners on the open road (like half-a-turn of one wheel relative to the other). Moreover, it is gears in an oil bath, the efficiency of which is very high.

        Of course, the differential is usually bolted to the crown wheel of the final drive, with which it shares the oil bath, and turns with it. The crown wheel is being driven by the prop-shaft pinion at hundreds of rpm, and an

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      RTFA -- better stability and better mileage. TFA says there are two gyrocars headed for production now, and gyrocars have been built since at least 1914. My grandpa was twenty then, the Cubs won the world series two years earlier, the airplane was only 11 years old.

      TFA says financing is what killed all the gyrocars.

      • When I was a kid, my aunt gave me a set of toy "friction-drive" gyro cars that were pretty awesome. They were a sort of like normal friction drive toy cars, except their flywheel had a huge gyroscopic moment and were much faster compared to the usual ones. They were just a tad larger than normal matchbox cars, and after revving them up, you could let them go on the floor and they'd skitter along for a good minute or two.

        They had 4 wheels, but due to the gyro they could do pretty neat tricks, like drive al

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          I remember those, they were really cool. The reason you won't see them today is because the flywheels were made of lead. Non-toxic metals don't have enough mass to be very good flywheels.

    • Two wheels create less friction than four. The car is lighter, smaller. That being said, I don't think anyone believes that this car is superior to a traditional car.

  • I'm more shocked by the "Corvair-ize your VW for $146!" headline on that Science & Mechanics magazine cover. Why?
    • Because the Corvair engine is relatively easy to fit in and more powerful than the VW flat-4 and a lot cheaper than a Porsche flat-6.

      Nowadays it is more common to use a Subaru flat-4.

    • The VW had a less powerful engine than the Corvair. The Corvair was Chevrolet's attempt to benefit from the success of the Beetle. My next door neighbor still drives his. The engine cooling is better, the engine is a bit bigger, and it's a very neat ride!
      • by stox (131684)

        The turbo-charged variant put out 180HP. The later models were extremely reliable and durable. Good enough to run as an airplane engine, which it was.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          180 hp? bah, the VW was good with 40 hp. Mine would hit 90 mph, and had the factory installed seat belts (none).
  • by necro81 (917438) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @01:26PM (#43026119) Journal
    Lit Motors [litmotors.com] has developed an enclosed motorcycle that uses an active gyro assembly under the driver to keep the thing upright when at a standstill and during sudden accelerations (i.e., during an accident). The gyro mechanism can also be used to assist in cornering.
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      I think I'd prefer the Monotracer [wordpress.com] over the C1. One thing that I don't see with the C1 is what happens when you step out and turn the thing off. Those Gyros can't run indefinitely.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        Answering my own post. I found this in the C-1 FAQ

        The C-1 has “landing gear” which are deployed when parked to keep the vehicle upright.

      • It has landing gear / extending legs. I'd like to think that what happens is you stop, deploy the landing gear, and the power management electronics divert the remaining spin from the gyros back into the battery.

      • First question answered in the FAQ, you'll be stunned at the technology they use to address this problem!

        http://litmotors.com/faq/ [litmotors.com]

    • by Eil (82413)

      I hadn't seen the Lit Motors design yet, but I must say, I am impressed. It would be a never-ending thrill to come up to a stoplight on a 2-wheeled vehicle and watch people's faces when you don't fall over. I do wonder, however, what happens when you're going down the road and get a little light on your dashboard that says the gyros have malfunctioned. You're pretty much going to topple over at your next stop. (Or more likely sooner, since anyone driving this thing is not going to well-practiced at balancin

      • by necro81 (917438)

        There's a company in Europe (don't recall the name) who are also developing an "enclosed motorcycle" type of vehicle, but they don't use gyros... below a certain speed or at too great an agle, there are two large "training wheels" which flip down and right the bike

        That's either the Ecomobile [google.com] or Monotracer [google.com]. I first saw that on an ooooold show called Beyond 2000, which aired back when the year 2000 still seemed in the future.

        • by Eil (82413)

          Yep, Monotracer, that's the one. Would love to test drive one someday, because with that price I'm sure never going to own one.

  • Just look at that thing. I don't care if it tips over and explodes the first time it gets turned on. I still want one.
    • Sadly, we are pretty much blocked from developing anything really innovative anymore. Not because it isn't possible, but because the regulations on passenger vehicles have basically made all vehicles the same from a mechanical/aerodynamic perspective. Not saying that a lot of those regulations aren't quite important, but the lack of an ability to get exemptions is a big problem. It's why so much of the design innovation actually goes into less than 4 wheel vehicles these days.

      I mean, aside from badging a

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Sadly, we are pretty much blocked from developing anything really innovative anymore. Not because it isn't possible, but because the regulations on passenger vehicles have basically made all vehicles the same from a mechanical/aerodynamic perspective.

        And even more so because businesses are no longer run by visionaries but by people who ask about ROI before doing anything, and think "dare" is a swear word.

  • But first they have to create the universe.

  • Add some wings and there you go! The gyro is ideal for landing on the highway. Die Messerschmitt für zee highways!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought someone might be interested in a video [youtube.com] made by one of it's previous owners.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @02:53PM (#43026943)

    How about making the car smaller and lighter, so that we could use the angular momentum of the two wheels for stabilisation without need for separate gyros. We could call it the motorbike or something.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)
      Don't they fall over when not moving due to lack of angular momentum?
      • Perhaps a device could included that could extend from the side and act as a third point of contact when the vehicle is stationary. We could call this, I dunno, your foot.
    • by femtobyte (710429)

      (a) A bicycle/motorcycle is certainly stabilized against rapid orientation changes by the wheels, but requires active feedback from the ingrained reflexes of the rider to not tip over. If the rider is surprised by an unexpected situation for which their ingrained reflexes are inadequate, they'll flip the bike. This system automates the stabilizing feedback loop with an electronic tilt sensor system that can probably do a better job (not panicking and thrashing about) in the type of "surprise" slipping/accel

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      there's bike in switzerland like that.. enclosed so you get the lower drag effect of a proper body and little assist wheels pop out when speed is low... in motion they're pretty much like this thing without gyro and they call them bikes anyways.

      • They banned fairings over the front wheel in motorcycle racing because it made too much sail area.

        Even the best riders in the world couldn't keep a full faring bike on the road with a strong wind gust from the side.

  • Oddly enough, I was just thinking of the use of gyroscopes in automobiles the other day.

    I was wondering if a uni-wheel automobile would be possible with a gyroscope.

    The physics is quite beyond me, I am afraid, curious though it is.

  • I thought Mr. Garrison invented this back in 2001. I guess I was wrong...

  • If you want stability, add a 3rd wheel in the rear and eliminate the gyro. Way simpler, more stable, less expensive, already proven and done...

  • While not gyro stabilized, the MonoTracer [21stcenturymotoring.com] is a pretty cool take on a similar enclosed two wheel design.
  • Does the gyro car come with or without tzatziki sauce?

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