EDWARD - a diwheel student-built vehicle that really works


June 8, 2011

EDWARD (Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping) is a student-built electric, working dicycle (Image: University of Adelaide)

EDWARD (Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping) is a student-built electric, working dicycle (Image: University of Adelaide)

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Designed and built by a team of students from Australia's University of Adelaide, EDWARD is a futuristic, purely electric dicycle - also known as a diwheel. Although it looks like transportation from the realm of science fiction, the vehicle is fully operational and can be controlled with surprising precision.

EDWARD is an acronym which stands for Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping. A diwheel is similar to a monowheel, in which the rider's seat is located inside the wheel. However, in the case of EDWARD, there are two axially aligned wheels instead of one, and the seat is located between them. Mechanical Engineering students have been working on the project since 2009, and it now seems to be close to completion - the designers have achieved quite a high level of controllability and stability.

One might think that such a diwheel design could make it hard to keep the rider's seat level, especially when using the brakes or accelerating (the so-called "gerbiling" effect, in which the rider rocks like a gerbil in an exercise wheel). However, due to "in-built lateral stability and slosh control," EDWARD allows riders to move in any direction, while their seat stays in a fixed position. The control system calculates and sets the best level of the seat after each movement.

EDWARD's maximum speed is 25 mph (40 kph).

While regular upright riding is entirely possible, users can also ride the vehicle upside-down, should they wish. Controlling an inverted ride is made possible through the use of a combined swingup and inversion controller, the EDWARD team explains.

The vehicle is driven via a joystick, and there's also a touchscreen-based control panel. The rider's safety is achieved through a five-point racing harness, that keeps them from falling out.

It looks like EDWARD might become a really fun attraction at amusement parks, at first. However, it's possible that the vehicle will prove to be much more useful, and could ultimately become an eco-friendly, silent and safe mean of transportation in the future.

Take a look at it in action in the video below.


Mr Garrison\'s \"IT\" springs to mind

Jacob Shepley

I want one!!

Andrew Cox

I have seen some of these things - in really great Yewwww Tube videos....

Emergency or hard stop.... and then the rider and machine go:

\"WoooooOOOO, WoooooOOOO, WoooooOOOO\" - headlong into the oncoming traffic and then off into the trees.....

Something about the advantages of leverage, widely spaced points of contact and gravity.

Not to say that these things are not nice at lower speed - but the emergency or hard braking does have this one fundamental drawback.

Mr Stiffy

Emergency hard braking could be accomplished by rapidly turning 90 degrees like a skater. This could easily be built into the logic making sure the c of g is at it\'s lowest point for the turn to prevent rollover. Perhaps the weight could be biased to one side for such a maneuver statically or even dynamically like leaning vehicles such as the Carver.


I\'m till fretting over today\'s story about Chinese genetically engineered cows that produce human breast milk. What if China sees this story and produces genetically engineered six-feet-long gerbils to ride in this giant exercise wheel?!?


Ya know, if you put one wheel BEHIND the other.......


@ Stiffy: I\'m pretty sure that a racing harness inside what looks like a pretty good roll cage is sufficient to keep you from ending up in a tree... and at a top speed of 25 mph, I\'ve pulled hard stops on a skateboard going faster - and haven\'t ended up in any trees yet.

Charles Bosse

The human brain has all evolutionary history of and d behind body control at speed and for body allignment. This is why skateboarding seems simple. Because it is now hardwired into the meat machine interface. Oout engineer that? DONT think so! That \"TURN90deg.\" Might be easy for aa meatsuit alone...but telling a dumb device-the diwheel- might not be so userendly or as intuitive.

Walt Stawicki

When stopped, what keeps it from rolling downhill? Automatic chocks?


I,m 67 years old and if I had the chance I sure would try one, looks like a blast to me!

Jim Reeves

For hard breaking, it needs to have a high energy gyroscope for stabilization. Having an automatic counter roll could make for a smaller gyroscope.


When will they come out to the public market and how much will they cost?


Jamie T

Well it loops really good, a gyro from a Segway would allow it to drive forward.

Facebook User

They should adopt Bobcat tractor steering... That Joystick sucks...

Mana Leituala

Nice gadget, but the guy inside is testing an experimental vehicle wearing no helmet, exposing himself to an innecesrary rik

Blind Librarian

@ Some folks - you just don\'t get it.

Rather than making instances in odd circumstances the justification of an argument - lets just put this into a situation of a high speed collision - that is worst case - and it\'s ONLY a survivable but inevitable impact - IF - you wash off as much speed as you can before impact. Your traveling along a highway at 100Kmh (60mph) and a car pulls out in front of you 30 meters (yards) away...

OK so I am making this up to convey a point - not to spent lots of time calculating accuracies from statistics etc.

Think 12 o\' Clock = above, 3 o\' clock in front, 6 o\' clock underneath, and 9 o\' clock behind.

In a straight line - at a decent speed - IF and WHEN you have to STOP really hard - like to avoid or to limit the damage by knocking off as much speed as you can before you hit - while the Diwheels true center of gravity at 6 O\' clock, is lower than the absolute center of the vehicle - the fulcrum or see saw point, is a mathematical elipse;

Meaning the harder you brake, the more the center of gravity (6 o\' clock) moves up and around the center of the vehicles center of rotation - until it hits the maximum of 90* from vertical (9 \'o clock), and then it gets easier to go into a roll as it gets\'s towards 12 o\' clock.

Once the vehicle starts rolling - into the collision you go with very little control or loss of speed.

Where as a car or motorbike - have two contact points with the ground, AND the center of gravity is between them.

Thus the amount of braking force that can be exerted before the vehicle can go into a roll - is an order of magnitudes higher than the Diwheel.

The Diwheels braking limitation is not good or bad - it is a limitation, just like everything is or has.

But in traffic, EMERGENCY STOP\'S ARE NECESSARY, and it\'s this vehicles most significant limitation - that the amount of braking force that can be applied before going into a roll, I\'d estimate would be about 1/4 to 1/5 of a conventional vehicle - meaning your stopping distances will be 4 or 5 times greater than a conventional vehicle.

Imagine doing 100Kmh, and someone pulls out say 30 meters in front of you, from a side street - you have your observation and reaction times, the time for the brake to be activated and the remaining distance for rapid deceleration....

Without doing a heap of interesting maths and clever approximations - I\'d estimate that in a car you could probably wash off enough speed to perhaps have an impact speed of say 20Kmh...

In the Diwheel - you\'d probably still be doing about 90Kmh...

A few quick spins and then \"Whack\".

The comment about turning it like a skateboard?

Into what? - The oncoming traffic or the trees? Or given that the wheel base is so narrow - it would easily flip onto it\'s side... then what?

Do the maths, calculate the parameters and define the limitations from the available limitations.

Then come back and post them here.

Mr Stiffy

Who needs to go to an amusement park when you can create your own thrill ride on one of these!

Carlos Grados
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