I propose a locomotion device for personal mobility which can move in all directions efficiently, with high speed and maneuverability, and over various surface conditions and small obstacles. The device is also portable, with reduced size and weight through the use of clever solutions and lightweight composite materials. Its high maneuverability is crucial in crowded environments where one must quickly change direction while maintaining the same heading to avoid bumping into other people or objects. Currently there is no other product on the market which offers this kind of performance and possibilities.
Features of the technology:
The type of locomotion adopted in the proposed device are omnidirectional wheels. Specifically, two mecanum wheels and one conventional omnidirectional wheel. The proposed configuration allows the platform to move in any direction seemingly without the need to steer the wheels nor change its orientation, like a true holonomic platform (see attached “Omnidirectional Dynamics.pdf”). Each wheel contains a motor, brake, and suspension all inside the hub. The omnidirectional wheel contains an additional motor to drive the rollers.
Wheels are a more efficient locomotion mechanism than legs or air pressure. They allow higher movement speeds and use simpler mechanisms to drive. They also require less powerful motors, thus reducing the weight of the system. They roll when power is not being given to the motors, making the whole platform easier to carry and transport when not in use. The novel suspension made of flexible elastomers and arranged in a honeycomb shape, provides absorption of horizontal and vertical vibrations while being extremely light. All these clever solutions make the device portable by one single person. The novel three 50 cm diameter wheel arrangement with independent suspention allows the platform to overcome small bumps and curbs, with heights about 5-8 cm. Although similar in size and shape to the existing Segway design, the introduction of the third wheel and wheel suspensions ensures that the device is always stable even when overcoming small obstacles. The addition of an extra wheel does not mean it is significantly larger than a Segway. In fact, the dimensions of the proposed device are located between those of the Segway and a normal wheelchair, with a footprint of 90 x 75 cm.
Novel solutions include the three omniwheel and mecanum wheel arrangement, omnidirectional wheel with integrated motor and suspension, omnidirectional wheel with drivable rollers through one single motor and the flexible elastomer in wheel hub lightweight suspension system.
This technology is still in concept level. However, many of its principles have already been proved during my research years on the subject of omnidirectional robots. The detail design of all mechanical and electronical components and systems should take up to one and a half year. The demonstration of the several concepts should take another full year and finally the construction of a fully working prototype should take up to two years.