Got a note the other day pointing to a website about Charles F. Taylor and his efforts to build a one wheel vehicle. When you think one wheel, you probably picture monowheels, where the operator sits inside the wheel, but Taylor was on a different path altogether, his wheel was centered within a platform that carried the driver, engine, steering and everything else. It isn’t immediately apparent how it operates, or even if it would, but there’s a lengthy video showing progress over about 10 years, from the earliest efforts to a far more advanced version and surprisingly enough, it actually works.
The vehicle utilized two gyroscopes, one, with rotating mass mounted vertically, was used for steering and controlling lateral stability. The second, mounted horizontally, controlled longitudinal stability. There was also a weighted balance sensor which sent signals to an air blower, varying the shutter opening, regulating air pressure to assist in pitch control.
There is also a torque reaction mechanism which works to counter forces during acceleration and deceleration, I’m still trying to figure that one out and it looks like the folks developing the working models are a little unclear on the details themselves.
Taylor’s aim, according to the 1964 patent application, was to build a vehicle for off road use, able to traverse rugged terrain better than a 4 wheeled vehicle or even a motorcycle. Of course, motorcycles in Taylor’s time frame, the 1950s and 1960s, were nowhere near as capable as off road bikes of today, but what’s important here is the creativity, ingenuity and motivation displayed by Charles Taylor who built these amazing vehicles without any computer assistance, either in the design process or in the actual function of the vehicle itself, all of the steering and balance are electro-mechanical. That’s impressive!
Last year, Hemmings Auto blog had a couple of posts on this vehicle and the son of Charles Taylor sent them some photos of a few surviving pieces of Taylor’s vehicles, the photo above is one. According to that post, his son would like to see someone who could reassemble the pieces and get the whole thing working again, but I think a lot of us would like to see that happen. An amazing piece of work.
Thanks for the great tip, Paul!