Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

The century-old Edison-Puton Monowheel

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June 5, 2012

The 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel has the frame, rider and a 150cc De Dion engine enclosed b...

The 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel has the frame, rider and a 150cc De Dion engine enclosed by the wheel.

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The annual Cholmondeley Pageant of Power in the U.K. never fails to deliver something special and this year that exotic ingredient is a 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel. Capable of being ogled by engineers for hundreds of hours at a time, the Monowheel was built in Paris in 1910, and bears testimony to human folly at its most ingenious.

There's something special for me about monowheels - those with gyroscopic balancers excepted. They look like they don't work, and they almost work practically, but not quite. They are however, a spectacle for the eye of any human with an interest in physics.

Despite the seeming obvious, the monowheel has been persevered with for well over 100 years as a viable solution to personal transportation needs. I dips me lid to the tenacity of the inventors, but without intelligent balancing, the monowheel is likely to remain a circus act as to me at least, it always looks like an accident about to happen.

The Edison-Puton Monowheel normally resides at the Auto & Technik Museum at Sinsheim, Germ...

The 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel on show at Cholmondeley has the frame, rider and a 150cc De Dion engine enclosed by the wheel.

A look back through history shows that at least 40 major monowheel projects have been undertaken between 1867 and now, and though many have displayed sheer engineering genius in order to bring them into vague usefulness, very few have seen service as genuine transport enablers.

The Edison-Puton Monowheel

The Edison-Puton Monowheel normally resides at the Auto & Technik Museum at Sinsheim, Germany.

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13 Comments

The invention pre dated the first motorbike built in 1884 in Erith Kent so at the time was the only non steam powered personnel transport, not including the Horse and the Boneshaker Bicycle (1870) which would have been its main competitors.

The Edison-Pluton had the problems of being very fast, having a large mass with ineffective breaks at a time when roads were designed to be navigated by horse and cart , it was without the means to take a turn safely on Britains cobbled streets (The first Tires were not made untill 1911). I believe the vulcanised rubber Tyres were the important missing element, which would have also solved the breaking problems but by then the Motorcycle and Automobile had arrived.

Also was a feature of Steamboy(Katsuhiro Otomo), set at the great expedition in 1851 where it is a steam powered vehicle.

L1ma
6th June, 2012 @ 02:49 am PDT

Nevertheless, it seems to have inspired Will Smith and Co in MiB 3......... and their brakes seemed to work okay. Great what can be achieved with a few cinematic effects, I guess.

Mike Hallett
6th June, 2012 @ 07:49 am PDT

Mono wheels are impractical because of the braking and accelerating problem. Hit the brakes to hard and the driver ends up rotating with the wheel, same with aggressive acceleration. Turns are not easy, there is no suspension and the wheel is in your line of forward vision.

Only use is for exibitions.

dgate
6th June, 2012 @ 08:01 am PDT

The thing is at least as practical as an electric car. Give it a gyroscope and a narrower wheel and away you go.

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re; L1ma

Tires have existed ever since the first time somebody put a better wearing surface on his wheel. I have seen plenty of steel tires, the first successful pneumatic tire wasn't until 1911 but that depends on how you choose to define successful.

Slowburn
6th June, 2012 @ 11:52 am PDT

there IS no decent solution to the braking problem.

Hit the brakes and keep on rolling, this time the occupant rolling with the wheel. Until you hit the thing you're trying to avoid.

Adrien
6th June, 2012 @ 03:35 pm PDT

Have you seen MIB3? They have monowheels that seem to be pretty cool.

DCL
6th June, 2012 @ 07:50 pm PDT

There is an obvious solution to braking, accelerating and visibility unfortunately the problem of very limited air streaming (at best a large M&M), compactness and the simple question who the hell wants it and why, remain.

attoman
7th June, 2012 @ 11:02 am PDT

How about clear fiberglass bubble- a duo-sphere or a clear bubble floating inside with extending stabilizers or engines?

Tyler Hall
7th June, 2012 @ 12:00 pm PDT

Re; Tyler Hall

Been done (http://www.gizmag.com/gyroscopic-personal-transportation/22060/).

L1ma
7th June, 2012 @ 03:57 pm PDT

Hello! I think Edison's era is over and now it is the time that we should start to work on Nikola Tesla for the betterment of humanity. I read in the books of kids about Edison and his useless DC bulb but no one talk of AC Current and free energy, Mobile phone concept and patents, free energy patents, X ray and many machined invented by him. He is the only scientist who has no match in the 20th century. A professional dishonest is not at all a professional.

Nasir
8th June, 2012 @ 08:52 am PDT

@adrien. "there IS no decent solution to the braking problem.

Hit the brakes and keep on rolling, this time the occupant rolling with the wheel. Until you hit the thing you're trying to avoid."

It doesn't have to be that way. Has anyone tried an inverse flywheel breaking system? You hit the brakes, energy is transferred to a flywheel for recovery into forward motion, however, spinning backward to forward motion to counter the forward roll. It would also act as a gyro for balancing. That might be a fun build!

kellory
8th June, 2012 @ 09:50 pm PDT

My Dear Kellory,

You proposed: "It doesn't have to be that way. Has anyone tried an inverse flywheel breaking system? You hit the brakes, energy is transferred to a flywheel for recovery into forward motion, however, spinning backward to forward motion to counter the forward roll. It would also act as a gyro for balancing. That might be a fun build!"

Methinks, "Space [may not be], the final frontier". Using an "Inside the Box" cliche, you may be "Thinking Outside the Box" indeed. It takes people like you to exemplify Kennedy's question: "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not".

Myron J. Poltroonian
15th June, 2012 @ 11:29 am PDT

My thanks, but you do me too much honor.

kellory
17th June, 2012 @ 07:09 am PDT
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