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Inline-wheeled Thrustcycle SRT performs a clever balancing act

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August 24, 2011

The Thrustcycle SRT is a three-wheeled vehicle that incorporates a gyro/flywheel system to...

The Thrustcycle SRT is a three-wheeled vehicle that incorporates a gyro/flywheel system to maintain its balance, and harvest power from braking

Image Gallery (3 images)

Fans of three-wheeled cars will tell you that the vehicles come in two configurations: delta, with the single wheel in the front, and tadpole, with the single wheel in the back. Well, now there's another type. The prototype Thrustcycle SRT has all three of its wheels in a straight lateral line, and utilizes a mechanical gyroscopic stabilizing system to keep it firmly upright even when standing still. That same system also stores kinetic energy generated by braking, extending the vehicle's range.

The current version of the SRT is powered by an electric hub motor in the middle wheel. Steering is provided by the rear wheel, while the front wheel is a caster that simply turns in whatever direction the vehicle is heading.

When not in use, the vehicle sits parked on supports. Once the driver climbs in and powers up its proprietary gyro/flywheel system, however, the gyroscopic effect kicks in and the vehicle automatically raises itself to an upright position. Although it will lean into turns, the gyro will always be pulling it back up. Just how powerful is it? In one video provided to us, the vehicle is kicked twice in the side - hard - but both times it immediately rises up again.

The Thrustcycle SRT is a three-wheeled vehicle that incorporates a gyro/flywheel system to...

The same flywheel that provides the gyroscopic effect is also used to kinetically store power generated by braking. As is the case with hybrid and electric cars' regenerative braking systems, that power can subsequently be used to augment the vehicle's chemical battery, allowing it to travel farther on one charge.

Flywheel energy storage systems have been used experimentally in vehicles before, although in some cases the gyroscopic effect generated by them has caused those vehicles to become unstable. With the SRT, however, that is apparently not a problem - instead of fighting the flywheel, you harness its gyroscopic tendencies and make them an asset instead of a liability.

"Since our vehicle recycles downhill and braking energy, efficiency gains will be magnified," one of the Thrustcycle team members told Gizmag. "That means gains in improving aerodynamics, reducing rolling resistance and reducing vehicle weight will be multiplied. Our gyroscopic system not only provides for safety and stability, but also enables a narrow aerodynamic in-line vehicle with no wheel wells."

Although you may not be seeing SRTs coming off an assembly line in the immediate future, the company is reportedly ready and able to do custom builds for individual clients, with gas,electric or hybrid engines. The price of a production SRT, should they reach that stage, has yet to be determined.

Below is a short video showing the vehicle balancing in place, and gliding past the camera. Hopefully some more extensive footage will be forthcoming.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
8 Comments

I have liked flywheel motors ever since i played with friction motor toys as a child. But an inline three wheeler with massive blind spots for the driver/rider. Something tells me there are recreational pharmaceuticals involved in the design process.

Slowburn
25th August, 2011 @ 01:41 am PDT

Could the stability flywheel control the unstable nature of the back wheel being stearable?

As a concept vehicle it looks really cool. I can see how the visibility is not very good making it rather impractical.

BigWarpGuy
25th August, 2011 @ 06:20 am PDT

Looks great - as far as it goes. I want to see it do some serious cornering though. It looks too wide to have enough 'angle of dangle' to me. PNB

paulblez
25th August, 2011 @ 07:50 am PDT

No pharmaceuticals involved,

recreational or otherwise.

This is only a prototype platform-

this current body shape is irrelevant.

All that really matters is the performance of the technology within-

not this current body style.

Personally,

I don't like this body version for other reasons,BUT-

it is one of the most comfortable postures I've ever experienced in any vehicle and I've experienced plenty.

The windshield pillar size is for strength and safety-

they could be eliminated but structural integrity would be diminished.

The rear view with proper mirrors is similar to many sports car and should

not be compared with open motorcycles.

Check out the website from time to time and you can stay updated with new videos showing the performance and new developments&models.

As one of those involved,

I can truly testify that if you walk up and kick this you will probably hurt your foot-

and the vehicle will NOT fall over.

The impact is barely measurable on the lean of the machine.

We are also considering production 

of plug-in hybrid recumbent bicycles.

(pedal-electric)

This prototype unit is intended to be categorized as a 

Neighborhood Electric Vehicle.

(see Wikipedia for more information)

NO licensing required in most American 

municiplaties.

This is NOT a high performance model.

A high performance model would lean farther than a Sport Bike because there would be no footpegs and the rider configuration/chassis layout could be even lower, flatter....

and more comfortable.

You wouldn't even have to sit up when you stop!

Truly,

you'd feel like Superman on a strafing mission!

Thrustcycle.com

Griffin
25th August, 2011 @ 02:34 pm PDT

You are better off without a protective cage than with one that blocks that much vision.

Slowburn
26th August, 2011 @ 02:47 am PDT

This is one cool looking ride!

This could be the look of vehicles in the near future.

Give me one in shiny black and I am on the road.

Just curious as to how much it weighs?

Tech Man
6th September, 2011 @ 11:57 pm PDT

Like the idea. But do you need a body right away? Seems it would be easier to get the layout and riding characteristics sorted easier with just a frame. Like the recumbent bikes. How small can you make a gyro? putting one on a recumbent would be cool.

As for a body, I would think something like a velomobile, maybe one where your head sticks out of the body (wear a helmet) with a roll bar behind you like a go-kart. I know you don't need a roll bar with gyros, but you never know. Anyway that kind of body would be far more aerodynamic and easier to fit in places.

I've read a report by a person who purchased a Suzuki DR200SE 2012 motorcycle. Its 200cc and he says if he bends over and keeps it at 40-45mph he gets up to 150mpg. He's only done it a few times as its a pain to ride that way, but it shows how efficient a engine they make now. Put that in a enclosed body and you would get that mileage all the time as well as higher top speeds as wind resistance is biggest resistance over 50mph.

So I really hope they can get this sorted and for a decent price, its what the world needs, or at least I do.

telocity
27th February, 2013 @ 02:18 pm PST

I've checked their Web site (as for Jan 2014): they can't progress beyond balancing on spot, just like LitMotors.

It's ridiculous: Japan hobbyist shows his monorail that banking on curves. Just Google "gyro[scope]" and see for yourselves.

Mike Akulov
27th January, 2014 @ 08:08 pm PST
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