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Thread: Alternative Cars/Vehicles

  1. #1

    Default Alternative Cars/Vehicles

    Could travel from coast to coast without refueling

    At home I have several folders filled with articles I have clipped or Xeroxed on the "air car". At first it looked impossible, maybe a hoax, but it turned out to be neither - rather it was a legitimate development in the auto industry, albeit for small scale production.

    The air car runs on compressed air and consequently does not pollute from its exhaust. Cost less than an electric car from an operational standpoint, and this collaborative enterprise is working on a hybrid version that uses a gasoline engine to generate compressed air for the non-gasoline engine side. Known as MDI, it is being developed in France, but the enterprise is registered in Luxembourg. It has been tested in urban areas of Europe for several years now. The text below is derived from the official website

    - Zephyr

    After fourteen years of research and development, Guy Negre has developed an engine that could become one of the biggest technological advances of this century. Its application to Compressed Air Technology(CAT) vehicles gives them significant economical and environmental advantages. With the incorporation of bi-energy (compressed air + fuel) the CAT Vehicles have increased their driving range to close to 2000 km with zero pollution in cities and considerably reduced pollution outside urban areas.

    The application of the MDI engine in other areas, outside the automotive sector, opens a multitude of possibilities in nautical fields, co-generation, auxiliary engines, electric generators groups, etc. Compressed air is a new viable form of power that allows the accumulation and transport of energy. MDI is very close to initiating the production of a series of engines and vehicles. The company is financed by the sale of manufacturing licenses and patents all over the world.

    left - Tata Motors in India will market the car in Asia, right - Courtesy Toffs World
    centre top two rows from a blog entitled 'Gems Sty'

    Last edited by Zephyr; August 22nd, 2008 at 04:21 AM.

  2. #2


    ZENN (Zero Emissions No Noise) Car
    A low speed. "... stop-and-go urban core, neighbourhood type of vehicle," that runs up to 60 minutes between electric charges

    CLICK HERE for Official website

    Courtesy linden hills co-op

    Impatiently waiting for Zenn
    Canadian Press
    December 17, 2007 at 12:32 PM EST

    ST-JEROME, Que. — The maker of the Zenn electric car still has to fill up his own vehicle at a gas station.

    Ian Clifford, CEO of the Zenn Motor Company (TSX:ZNN), is trying to get his environmentally friendly car on urban streets for short trips because, despite approval from Transport Canada, the province still won't let him. "Your biggest carbon footprint as an individual is probably the car you drive," Clifford told The Canadian Press in an interview at the Zenn car manufacturing facility. This worries Clifford when he gets into his intentionally small "internal combustion car" to get his groceries and do his errands.

    Ian Clifford, CEO of Zenn Motor Company, drives an electric Zenn car at the company's plant in St-Jerome, Que. (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

    And it also isn't a calming or Zen-like experience.

    "Every time I go to the gas station, I want to choke," he said, his voice full of frustration.

    Clifford had just finished test driving a Zenn car on a suburban road in St-Jerome, north of Montreal. The drive included doing circles of doughnuts on a snow-covered parking lot.

    The Zenn — short for zero-emissions and no noise — can travel at a speed 40 kilometres an hour for more than 60 minutes at a time, ideal for going to the store, and plugs into an regular electrical outlet to recharge. The car recently received the National Safety Mark from Transport Canada, approving its use in Canada, but each province has to legislate its use as a low-speed vehicle.

    It retails between US$12,000 and $15,000 and can be driven legally in 45 of 50 U.S. states, currently its primary destination.

    But the Toronto-based company doesn't have a Canadian retail price because Clifford is still waiting on the provinces. British Columbia is supposed to come up with specific legislation that would allow the Zenn car to be driven in that province early in 2008, Clifford said. Ontario has a pilot project that allows electric vehicles only in provincial parks. But Premier Dalton McGuinty's government is specifically interested in the Zenn car and Quebec is looking at the experience of low-speed vehicles internationally, he added.

    "It's an absurdity, to be honest, that we cannot sell this in Canada. We are a Canadian company and this just adds insult to injury, if you will."

    Al Cormier, executive director of Electric Mobility Canada, said there needs to be more flexibility in regulations for electric cars, which can contribute to environmental well-being without forcing a change of lifestyle. "It's the end of cheap oil," Cormier noted. "As the price of oil goes through the roof, this makes more and more sense."

    Industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers said although he's not familiar with the Zenn car, it's difficult to "jump all of the hurdles" to get an electric car on the road because each province and state has to approve it.

    "It's a real dog's breath of a problem," said DesRosiers.

    Electric cars are a small "niche market" and the battery technology isn't there yet for a mass-market electric vehicle, said DesRosiers, head of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. But gas-electric hybrid technology cars by major auto makers are having some success but that's a niche, too, Clifford added.

    "These kinds of things are a lot of fun but how do you manage to make money out of it?" DesRosiers said.

    Clifford, 45, started out as a photographer and then had an Internet marketing company. So it has been a long way from pictures to cars. For him, it was the frustration of being stuck and idling in his SUV in Toronto traffic that turned him to the idea of an electric car. "When I couldn't buy one, I said enough of this. I am going to start a car company."

    Clifford said more than 200 Zenn cars have been sold in the last eight months. "We're looking really good for next year."

    The aluminum and plastic bodies of the Zenn car are shipped from France and the St-Jerome production line staff install the electric drive system. The Zenn has six 12-volt batteries and a 5.5 horsepower engine with plenty of "torque," Clifford said. It takes an overnight recharging to keep it fully charged.

    "You get about 55 or 60 kilometres of driving. So as a 40 km/h vehicle, you're good for an hour or an hour-and-a-half of steady driving. But nobody drives this kind of car like that. This is a stop-and-go urban core, neighbourhood type of vehicle."

    It also has enough storage space, as was demonstrated on CBC television's The Rick Mercer report by filling the back of a Zenn with beer. "We fit 20 cases of beer in the hatch. So it's an ideal Canadian weekend grocery shopping car," Clifford joked.

    Zenn now has a line of cars with an alternating current drive which allows motorists to accelerate when going up hills, which suits markets such as San Francisco, or B.C. The company is launching a model that has air conditioning with the latest coolants that Clifford said aren't ozone-depleting and is also launching heating system to keep the battery pack warm in winter.

    Shares in Zenn closed down 22 cents, 5.6 per cent, Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange at $3.74.

    © Copyright 2008 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.


    "ZENN on The Rick Mercer Report" was posted on YouTube by zenntv (23.November.2007)

  3. #3

    Default 4WS/AWS Part 1 - What is it?

    4WS/AWS Vehicles
    Four Wheel Steering (4WS) also known as All Wheel Steering or All Wheel Steer (AWS)

    PART 1 - What is it?


    Definition: A system that uses all four wheels to steer the car. The steering angle is usually limited to 2° or 3°. Turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front at slow speeds can allow faster maneuvering and a much tighter turning radius. Turning the rear wheels in the same direction as those at the front at high speed allows sudden lane changes with much greater stability. Turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front when parking makes parallel parking much easier.


    Four wheel steering is a relatively new technology that improves maneuverability in cars, trucks and trailers. It should not be confused with four wheel drive in which all four wheels of a vehicle are powered.

    In standard two wheel steering vehicles, the rear set of wheels are always directed forward therefore and do not play an active role in controlling the steering. In four wheel steering systems, the rear wheels can turn left and right. To keep the driving controls as simple as possible, a computer is used to control the rear wheels.

    As shown in the drawing below, most four wheel steering systems can control the rear wheels in the following fundamental ways:

    • At slow speeds, the rear wheels are turned in the opposite direction of the front wheels. This can lessen the turning radius by approximately 20%.

    • At faster speeds on the highway, the rear wheels are turned in the same direction as the front wheels. This improves lane changing maneuverability and is particularly beneficial for vehicles towing a trailer.

    Four wheel steering is growing in popularity and you are likely to see it in more and more new vehicles. As the systems become more commonplace you can expect the cost of four wheel steering to drop.

    - wiseGEEK

  4. #4

    Talking 4WS/AWS Part 2 – What it is not!

    4WS/AWS Vehicles

    PART 2 - What it is not!

    "Four Wheel Drive and Four Wheel Steering"

    YouTube Video Runtime - 02:48

  5. #5

    Default 4WS/AWS Part 3 - (a) Honda Re-introduces 4WS via Patents

    4WS/AWS Vehicles

    PART 3a - Honda Re-introduces 4WS via Patents

    Patents; Four-Wheel Steering, For Stability

    Published: January 14, 1989

    The Honda Motor Company this week received the first of what appears to be a series of patents for its system of four-wheel steering in automobiles. The company introduced its first four-wheel steering system last year, as an option in the Prelude, and the new patent sheds considerable light on how it works.

    Proponents of four-wheel steering argue that such systems give a car greater stability on the highway and a sharper turning radius in parking. The basic concepts have been around for many years, but car manufacturers have had difficulty in developing practical designs and consumers remain skeptical.

    Honda's patent is the first issued in the field since 1981 and only the third over all. The company has filed six related patent applications.

    As in previous designs, the car's rear wheels are designed to turn in the same direction as the front wheels when the driver is changing lanes at highway speeds. For sharp turns at slow speeds, as in parking lots, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels. Different Forces Involved

    The different turns involve different forces. In parking, the rear wheels follow the arc of the circle started by the front wheels, which means the wheels actually point in opposite directions. The effect, however, is that the car can turn in a much tighter radius than is normally possible.

    The same maneuver would prove highly unstable on a highway, however, because a car's rear end would swing out while the front swings in. That would soon cause the driver to lose control.

    Thus, at highway speeds the rear wheels are designed to turn very slightly in the same direction as the front wheels. This causes the car to change lanes while its body remains pointed straight ahead. As a result, the car sways less during lane changes than a car with conventional steering.

    The new Honda patent includes a computerized control unit that monitors both the speed and the sharpness of turns, and steers the rear wheels according to the nature of each turn.

    In addition, however, the system includes the geometry of what is called Ackermann steering, which sets slightly different angles for the wheels facing into and away from the turn. Although this is a standard principle in front-wheel steering systems, earlier rear-wheel designs had not succeeded in incorporating it.

    Honda received patent 4,796,904.

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  6. #6

    Default 4WS/AWS Part 3 - (b) Honda 4WS Prelude

    4WS/AWS Vehicles

    PART 3b - Honda 4WS Prelude

    1987 Honda Prelude with 4WS aka AWS

    Can We Utilize the Rear Wheels of FF [Front-Wheel Drive] Cars?

    The 1960s were a decade of dramatic progress in science and engineering. In space, NASA's Apollo missions fostered boundless dreams and aspirations, as man took his first glorious steps upon the surface of the moon. And on earth, people were beginning to see visions of an ever-advancing automotive technology. It all meant the promise of a bright future.

    The rapid popularization of automobiles in the 1960s backlashed in the 1970s, however. Various problems began to emerge, from environmental pollution and traffic congestion to growing numbers of traffic accidents and recalls of defective vehicles. In response to public concerns, significant efforts were made to address these problems. The ESV (Experimental Safety Vehicle) program, led by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a U.S. agency), was one such effort.

    The ESV's objective was to conduct a fundamental review of automobile safety, with the intention of lowering the rising tide of traffic accidents. It was a matter of global consensus, with automobile manufacturers around the world joining the program. With its automobile operations finally getting on track, Honda decided to participate in the program as well, though on a semi-official level. As a result, research was begun on an experimental safety vehicle.

    Automotive safety generally falls into two categories: "collision avoidance" and "active safety." Honda's themes of research were explored from the perspective of enhanced active safety in the areas of maneuverability, stability and dynamic performance. In other words, the research aimed at developing responsive vehicles that could more easily avoid obstacles and, when necessary, come to a quick, complete stop. It was this research effort that ultimately laid the foundation for subsequent evolutionary developments in power steering. Another of the possibilities examined through Honda's research was a hydraulic suspension system designed to prevent centrifugal force from affecting the driver.

    The assurance of active safety, which was the main target of the research, meant that Honda would have to identify fundamentally effective mechanisms in order to achieve better dynamic performance. At the end of 1977, Honda held a brainstorming session in the hope of returning to the basics through a review of fundamental vehicle structures. This brainstorming session gave birth to the concept of a 4-wheel steering (4WS) system.

    Honda vehicles were at the time essentially front-engine, front-wheel-drive (FF) models. In an FF vehicle the rear wheels play a relatively minor role, since the front wheels perform around 80 percent of the steering, driving and braking. Compared to the front wheels, the rear wheels are merely in place as a means of support, ensuring that the car moves ahead in a straight and predictable fashion.

    The brainstorming session produced certain discussions that led to an interesting fact: although there were cars with four-wheel brake systems and four-wheel drive, steering control was universally given to the front wheels. Naturally, they wondered if they could utilize the idle rear wheels to provide some steering function. With that, an initial concept was defined. The fact that only Honda had vehicles of FF specification made the idea all the more intriguing. If the rear wheels could be employed in a way that provided some steering control, dynamic performance would improve significantly. The research engineers began to ponder that question, and as they did their desire for a new challenge was awakened.

    Ideas Become a Theoretical Model

    Test equipment in Oguchi's laboratory at Shibaura Institute of Technology.
    The development team's research made real progress, thanks to the drum-type bench tester.

    At the Sixth Research Block of the Wako R&D Center, Shoichi Sano and Osamu Furukawa were deep in discussion as to how they should approach the concept identified in the brainstorming session.

    The idea, after all, had not yet been approved as an official project theme, so the financial and human resources available to them were quite limited. Moreover, several projects were running concurrently at the time, making a proper development team even harder to come by. Data, too, was hardly sufficient, given the uniqueness of such a concept. For example, although they wanted to modify existing models in order to construct test cars, they didn't even know whether the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction or in opposite directions. There were so many questions, due to the fact that a steering system based on four wheels would allow considerable flexibility in control. The key question was where to start.

    Sano and Furukawa decided to build a theoretical model for the four-wheel steering system, believing it would help define the fundamental concept before the actual research started.

    "It was interesting just mulling over ideas in my head, simply because it was such a new system," Furukawa recalled. "Nobody had ever driven a car with such a system before. I had fun just imagining myself driving it. I have to admit, it was something of an obsession. I was always thinking about the 4WS system, even when I wasn't working."

    The theoretical model created at this stage eventually led the pair to the basic mechanisms, providing a dramatic motivation in the development of the 4WS system.

    Four-wheel steering, however, wasn't an unknown concept.

    Daimler-Benz had already developed four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering vehicles for the Forest Service. Their rear wheels were designed to turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels so that the vehicle could make sharp turns along narrow mountain roads. However, the specification had yet to be adapted for use in mass-production units. Even though it was effective in mountain driving, maneuverability was less than perfect elsewhere. Consequently, these cars occasionally had stability problems while being driven on Germany's famed Autobahn.

    A special committee under Japan's Ministry of Transport once examined the merits of a vehicle whose rear wheels could turn in the direction opposite that of the front wheels, as part of discussions regarding the safety of large trucks. There was mounting public concern at the time regarding the danger of transport vehicles, particularly in instances where wide left turns were called for. The committee, too, concluded that a vehicle with four-wheel steering would be less stable at high speeds.

    Furukawa's theoretical model substantiated these concerns, concurrently defining a direction as to how Honda should proceed. The fundamental principle identified by his model was that the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction at high speeds and opposite directions at low speeds.

    "We used figures to express an ideal car," Furukawa said. "It was one that could make quick, sharp turns, for which we made the proper calculations. And this was the answer we came up with."

    The ideal control method for the four wheels was examined from a broader perspective, and those findings were then reflected in a concrete, theoretical model. This approach successfully outlined a 4WS system that was unlike anything before it. The principle mechanism won a basic patent in 1978, which further propelled Honda's development of the 4WS system.

    The Test Car: From Theory to Reality

    The 4WS test car created by fusing the front sections of two Accords.
    Putting together two front sections, instead of modifying one complete vehicle to four-wheel steering specifications,
    greatly enhanced the progress of development.

    Another group outside Honda was studying a similar system at the time Honda had begun its research into 4WS. Oguchi's laboratory at Shibaura Institute of Technology, led by then assistant professor Oguchi was examining a steering-control system that would allow the front and rear wheels to move independently, thus moderating the negative effects of understeer and oversteer. Honda knew about Oguchi's research group, since the company had earlier commissioned studies on maneuverability and stability in mini cars. When Sano and Furukawa learned that the group was conducting research under a similar theme, they proposed that the two join forces. With that, the two-man development team gained a significant measure of support.

    A key benefit of the joint research was the drum-type bench tester installed in Oguchi's laboratory. It was a device made of two drums placed in parallel at the front and back. A test car made of pipe frames was placed on top of the tester. The tester could evaluate maneuverability and stability under various conditions by changing the gearbox setting in order to obtain the desired steering ratios for the front and rear wheels. With this device Sano and Furukawa could substantiate their theory through the collection of quantifiable data. They also acquired other data, including an optimal steering ratio for the rear wheels. This proved very useful when filing the patent application for their aforementioned technology.

    The two partners made rapid progress, and soon they were ready to test an actual vehicle. In April 1981, the first drive test was carried out on the west course at Suzuka Circuit. The test car was built from two Accords whose front sections were cut off and welded together to make one vehicle. The link mechanism that interconnected the front and rear steering mechanisms came courtesy of Oguchi and his students, who had fashioned it by hand.

    "We had a good feeling about the outcome," Furukawa said. "Still, it was our first attempt, so we were very anxious to see what would happen."
    Happily, the test results obliterated any concerns they might have had. The test car demonstrated a level of dynamic performance that far exceeded their expectations, in the process transforming a mere theory into reality. And given such a positive outcome, it was now possible for a formal 4WS development project to get under way.

    The Shift from Speed to Steering Angle

    The operating mechanism of the rear steering gearbox, which connects two crank mechanisms at different phases using a planetary gear

    The control mechanism created through the joint effort, which turned the front and rear wheels in the same direction at high speeds but in opposing directions at low speeds, was initially conceived as a "speed-linked 4WS system"-a control mechanism directly dependent on the speed of the vehicle. However, it required a gear-ratio control in order to successively link the wheel-turning actions in two different directions. Accordingly, a new mechanism had to be developed by combining an electronic control device and variable gear-ratio mechanism.

    The layout of such a system would prove to be a difficult, but not impossible challenge. However, excessive complexity could result in problems during production, that would be reflected in the market. Therefore, further discussions were held in order to simplify the system. Eventually, the review process led to a theoretical shift in linking the control function to the angle of steering rather than the vehicle's speed. This became the starting point for a "steering-angle sensing 4WS," which would control the rear wheels in accordance with how much the steering wheel was turned.

    This is easier to understand by imagining what one does when driving a car. When changing lanes on a highway, the steering wheel is turned only slightly. However, there are situations in which the steering wheel must be turned considerably more, such as when parking the vehicle in a garage. In view of enhanced dynamic performance, the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction at high speeds and in opposite directions at low speeds. But when steering angles are applied to this principle, the front and rear wheels should turn in the same direction at smaller angles but opposite directions when greater angles are applied.

    Honda had, in fact, already included this concept in a patent the company obtained in 1978. However, it all became a reality with the development of a new crank mechanism, which was designed to turn the wheels in the same direction initially but in opposite directions after a certain point. For example, when the steering wheel was turned to a large angle, the wheels would turn in the same direction for a brief moment after the steering wheel starts to rotate. Then, as the angle of steering increased, the rear wheels would turn toward the opposite direction. One problem had to be resolved, though, in order that the mechanism could be utilized. With a single crank mechanism, the wheels could only be turned at certain instances, regardless of whether the front and/or rear wheels were turning in the same or opposite directions. With the car traveling at high speed, the desired control could be achieved with the rear wheels turned just one or two degrees at most in crank angle. On the other hand, an offset of approximately five degrees would provide more effective control during low-speed maneuvers. In that regard it would not make sense to use only one crank. Therefore, it was decided that the combination of two cranks would overcome the drawback. This led to the development of a simple mechanical system that would not rely on an electronic control device or other such complexities.

    High scores were given to the complete 4WS system at its initial evaluation. Even Tadashi Kume, then the president of Honda R&D, was impressed by its simplicity and effectiveness. The achievement was the fruit of hard work by the development staff, who at each occurrence of difficulties used a calm, analytical approach in order that the project could move forward. Simplicity was their byword, and in all respects the 4WS system satisfied that.

    The New Concept: A Hard Thing to Promote

    The rear steering gearbox used in the 1988 Prelude

    It is only human nature that people are suspicious and skeptical of things they do not fully understand. This was certainly true of Honda's 4WS system, which would be a challenge to sell in the marketplace. Compounding the problem was that four-wheel steering control is very complex, making the benefits difficult to understand simply by describing the specifications. It would be hard for anyone to understand just how much the maneuverability and stability have improved without actually driving the car and experiencing its effect. When basic research began, there were as many doubters in the company as there were believers. Some expressed their doubts in an outright fashion, saying that the rear wheels should not turn and that using them for steering control could never work. But as the 4WS development project progressed, moving toward the D-development stage, Furukawa, the newly appointed LPL, had to think of ways to promote confidence in the new system.

    Problems were nevertheless manifested in the D-development stage that the team hadn't even imagined during the R-development phase.

    For instance, the 4WS system would need long link shafts, but those wouldn't fit on the production line because all extraneous space along the line had been eliminated for maximum efficiency. Suspension alignment, too, became an area of concern. With a conventional vehicle, the alignment process simply requires that the front wheels be adjusted against a fixed reference point,-the rear wheels. But in a car equipped with a four-wheel steering system the body would have to serve as the reference, necessitating changes in the equipment and process used.

    Regardless of any possible benefits it might offer, a technology can not be applied to products if it requires an excessive investment, since that will only force the cost of those products higher. To solve the problem, the factory had to work hard to find ways of controlling costs.

    Furukawa knew he had to do something to alleviate the sense of doubt that was becoming prevalent among the factory personnel and other staff. So, while working to solve the problems at hand, he decided to give his colleag-ues an opportunity to drive the car themselves. After all, it was the only way for them to experience the sensation of a 4WS system, and the only way to understand its potential impact.

    Furukawa formed a 4WS promotional committee so that test drives could be arranged for factory and service personnel. It was through such tests that the people who would actually produce the final product came to perceive it as an entirely new level of dynamic performance. In fact, the test drives not only facilitated communication among all involved, they also sparked enthusiasm about Honda's exciting new technology.

    Eventually, the associated staff people at Honda's overseas offices, along with journalists and officials from certifying agencies, were invited to try the system, thus nurturing an accurate understanding of 4WS.

    Malicious Tests and Local Adaptability Tests

    Exhaustive studies were carried out to identify and eliminate the problems that might occur in the marketplace. Even though the cars were to be driven by different users in different ways, it would be impossible to predict every condition the vehicle would encounter. In other words, it was possible that problems could occur outside the context of what the design engineers had anticipated. To minimize that possibility, trial tests were conducted in various practical settings.

    A series of "malicious tests" was devised, so named because the test conditions were set to simulate overly adverse situations that were unlikely to occur during normal use. For example, one test examined whether the steering function would work when the driver started the engine and turned the steering wheel without knowing that one of the rear wheels was caught in a ditch only as wide as the wheel's rim. Another test would determine whether the system would break down during operation if the car was used in a cold climate such as Hokkaido's with the rear wheels frozen under a mantle of snow. Numerous other scenarios were considered, during which all system functions were verified in detail.

    The development team even held a number of local-adaptability tests in Europe, along with test drives for personnel at Honda's overseas offices. These helped identify problems during actual driving, as well as driver responses to them. This had all been designed to incorporate user feedback into solutions that would further enhance the system's performance. Of course, there were a few mishaps. During one test drive, a driver who was overly confident in the system approached a corner at excessively high speed and smashed right through the guardrail. Nevertheless, marks for the system were very high and every office in Europe gave it a "thumbs-up." The results couldn't have been more satisfying.

    The world was now ready for another first. In April 1987, Honda's unique steering angle sensing 4WS debuted in the form of a stunning new, high-performance Prelude. The system had indeed opened doors to an entirely new perception of automotive possibility.

    The Importance of a Challenge

    Over a ten year period, Honda's new 4WS system had evolved from the basis of a casual comment-a simple idea-to the production of a car that would set a new standard in handling and dynamic performance. Yet, the reason for Honda's technical leadership was equally simple: use a theoretical model to identify the fundamental principle of operation. Once that was achieved, the other aspects of development would follow suit. And in that regard the final outcome was truly an extension of the original idea.

    "We were able to define what we could achieve by turning the rear wheels," Furukawa said, "and that understanding proved to be a real boost. Once we had the concept, we only needed to embody it by experimenting with ideas and solving problems."

    The theoretical model's significance is reflected in the fact that it is now a popular method among researchers. Simple in form yet applicable to the most advanced theory of control, the model has been used in various studies, including those leading to today's suspension-control technologies and active, left/right braking systems. In that regard, Honda's development of 4WS became the foundation for many subsequent theories of automotive control.

    "It was the desire to bring what we believed to the world, and to see it accepted by users," Furukawa explained. "That's the thing that made our R&D process work."

    The act of innovating, then, stemmed from the search for ideas the development team could use to realize a goal. Each time they encountered a problem, they had to stop and find a solution. They knew that failures would occur despite their efficiency in seeking the target-that was simply the price of success. Ultimately the technology they had so diligently endeavored to achieve became a product, and it was well received in the market. It was a real benefit to their confidence as engineers.

    "When the 4WS system was in development," Furukawa said, "I truly believed that I was creating a technology. But when I look back at it now, perhaps it was the 4WS technology that was nurturing me."

    Honda's 4WS system undeniably established a new standard in driving performance, but without a doubt it did something more. It brought creative minds together in a solution that would one day benefit the automotive world.

    Copyright, 2008 Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

  7. #7

    Default 4WS/AWS Part 4 - GMC introduces "Quadrasteer" on Sierra Denali

    4WS/AWS Vehicles

    PART 4 - GMC introduces "Quadrasteer" on Sierra Denali

    The Sierra Denali sports new roof mounted marker lights and flared rear shoulders. Note the angled rear wheel in this shot.

    GMC Unveils Three Technologies That Will Change Your Pickup Truck Forever

    By: Michael Levine and John Gillies
    08 July 2001

    Who says you can't drive concept vehicles? Well, you still might not find GMC's Terradyne parked in your driveway anytime soon but in the near future three cutting-edge, concept-worthy technologies will change the way you drive and use your pickup.

    We spent two days with GMC in La Jolla, California getting familiar with four-wheel steering and two new powertrains featuring automatic cylinder shutoff and hybrid gasoline-electric propulsion.


    Back in 1988 Honda became the first auto maker to introduce four-wheel steering, in its compact Prelude sedan. About the same time GM was showcasing a much more advanced version of four wheel steering in its Blazer XT-1 concept vehicle. For whatever reason the feature never took off, probably because the Prelude's purely mechanical setup didn't provide much benefit in the already nimble car and the XT-1's system was as complex and expensive as a NASA X-plane.

    Enter the 2002 GMC Sierra Denali, the successor to the 2001 Sierra C3. The Sierra Denali makes an already outstanding truck even better with the addition of Quadrasteer four-wheel steering, aka QS4.

    Quadrasteer electronically controls the rear wheels at different speeds and under various load bearing conditions to create an amazing amount of agility and maneuverability - especially when towing or parking. The rear wheels turn in proportion to the front up to a maximum 12-degree angle depending on vehicle speed and driving mode. 12-degrees may not seem like a lot but consider the following: at 37.4 feet the Sierra Denali's turning radius in four-wheel steer mode is only three inches greater than that of a three door Saturn coupe! That's almost 10 feet smaller than the 2001 Sierra C3 was capable of performing! Quadrasteer on the 2002 Sierra Denali is a game-changer.

    The 2002 Sierra Denali's turning radius is almost 10 feet smaller than the 2001 Sierra C3.

    Quadrasteer steer-by-wire rear axle is controlled by two sophisticated microprocessors. At low speeds the rear wheels turn in the opposite, or negative, direction of the front wheels up to a transition zone of around 40 to 45 mph where the rear wheels track neutrally. At speeds over 45 mph the rear wheels turn in concert, or positively, with the front. If at any time the two microprocessors 'disagree' over the steering information they have received QS4 automatically shuts down and reverts back to traditional two-wheel steering.

    Located on the dash of the Sierra Denali is a push button Quadrasteer control panel similar to the four-wheel drive control panel found in many trucks today. The driver pushes the button to change steering modes from two-wheel steer (2WS) to four-wheel steer (4WS) to four-wheel steer tow (4WS TOW). In 4WS mode the rear wheels turn up to the maximum allowable amount below 40-45 mph. The wheels transition and turn in the same direction as the front above this speed. When towing, Denali drivers can select 4WS TOW. 4WS TOW reduces the amount of rear wheel steer at slower speeds, when the wheels are turning in opposite directions, but increases it at higher speeds when the wheels turn in the same direction.

    With Quadrasteer, drivers can select 2 Wheel Steer, 4 Wheel Steer or 4 Wheel Steer Tow Modes using a push button control panel on the dashboard.

    Created in an exclusive partnership with Tier 1 supplier Delphi automotive, GMC won't comment on how long this arrangement will last. Dana Corporation provides the Sierra Denali's axle and Delphi completes the final assembly, adding the electronics and delivering the final unit to GM's Oshwa, Ontario plant where the Denali is produced.

    The Quadrasteer system adds a weight penalty of about 285 pounds to the truck but gives back this amount and more in additional towing and hauling capabilities over the C3. The rear axle's weight rating increases by 250 pounds to 4000 pounds and maximum GCWR (gross combined weight rating) climbs from 14000 to 16000 pounds. Trailering capacity has increased from 8700 pounds to 10000 pounds. The wider rear axle also provides more stability when towing.

    Sam Mancuso, the Sierra Brand Manager, proudly proclaims, "The Sierra Denali is the most capable _-ton pickup truck available in its class. There is nothing else like it from Ford, Dodge or Toyota."

    The addition of Quadrasteer has required some exterior changes to the Denali further setting it apart from the C3 and adding more testosterone to the truck. The first things you notice are the muscular, composite shoulders added over the rear wheels to accommodate the wider rear axle and turning requirements. Overall body width has grown from 78.5-inches to 83.5-inches. Government regulations stipulate the trucks over 80-inches in width also include roof mounted marker lamps and fender mounted clearance lights so the Denali looks almost like an athletic dually at first glance.

    Trailer towing becomes much easier with Quadrasteer engaged. The Sierra Denali's pivot point shifts from the front to the rear wheels providing more maneuverability

    We took the Sierra Denali out first-hand to test drive the Quadrasteer's towing and trailer-free capabilities.

    The first Sierra Denali we drove came with a 30-foot, 7500 pound trailer attached for a GCWR of 14500 pounds.

    GMC engineer Gene Rodden took us out to a closed course, marked with cones, to test out Quadrasteer's maneuverability. Attempting to tow in 2WS mode quickly demonstrated how challenging towing can be and the large amount of attentiveness required by the driver to clearances, the length of both vehicles and placement of the trailer axle. Needless to say the course was not optimized for 2WS trailer towing resulting in the senseless mutilation of multiple orange traffic cones.

    Switching to 4WS TOW mode to run the same course again, Quadrasteer provided a clear improvement in maneuverability, measurably improving the driver's level of confidence and margin of error in moving the trailer around and meeting clearances in corners. The cones were also a lot happier.

    An interesting demonstration of rear wheel movement was shown in response to increased throttle while holding the brake on. Quadrasteer is also sensitive to throttle response not steering alone. 4WS TOW angles ranged from 7 degrees, increasing to 12 with full lock for low speed maneuvers. Reversing the truck lowered the tolerances and reduced the steering angles available for maneuvering the truck. Not that it was a rally course, but rounding the cones at a decent clip seemed to make trailering easier than maneuvering at very low speeds.

    We left the trailer course to make our way to Highway 52 outside San Diego.

    Navigating surface streets with the trailer and heavy morning commuter traffic proved to be quite easy with Quadrasteer. When making right turns you could actually keep the Denali in the right lane of the street you had just turned onto. No more wide turns into the middle or left lanes. And when making U-turns the only word that came to mind is amazing. We made a U-turn onto a three lane road and were easily able to make the middle lane towing the 30-foot trailer!

    On the freeway Quadrasteer shined again. Lane changes at 60 mph were seamless. The synchronized movement of the front and rear wheels at these speeds reduced the articulation angle between the Sierra and trailer. Reduced side forces acting on the trailer made the entire platform more stable.

    If you didn't know you were towing a trailer and looked in the rearview mirror, you would think someone was tailgating.

    Rodden remarked that during separate road testing on highways in high wind conditions in 4WS TOW mode the truck / trailer combo was also much more stable than in standard 2WS mode.
    The Sierra Denali sports new roof mounted marker lights and flared rear shoulders. Note the angled rear wheel in this shot.

    The second Sierra Denali we drove was unloaded. Like last year's 2001 Sierra C3 we drove the Denali displayed the same great on-road driving characteristics.

    As the only currently produced all-wheel drive pickup, Quadrasteer enhances the driving experience so you feel like you are driving a luxury sport sedan, albeit a very tall one. On twisty mountain roads the truck was outstanding.

    There was no mention of pricing for the 2002 Sierra Denali, but we expect the truck to come in somewhere just north of $40,000. That's a hefty price tag for an extended cab truck. Clearly this is a truck for early adopters but we do expect Quadrasteer to quickly appear on other, less expensive, GM trucks.

    Copyright © 1995-2008, Inc. All Rights Reserved

  8. #8

    Default 4WS/AWS Part 5 - Jeep Hurricane Concept

    4WS/AWS Vehicles

    PART 5 - Jeep Hurricane Concept (4WD with 'Independent' 4WS)

    This is a concept car that has been extensively tested. A 4x4, 11.4 L, 4WS with split-axel, 2 engine design. This 4WS, however, goes one step further into something called Four Wheel Independent Steering.

    Jeep Hurricane Concept

    Jeep isn’t new to fabricating … concept vehicles … [When] the Jeep Hurricane made its debut at the [2005?] North American International Auto Show stage, it raised the bar for the Jeep name.

    "Jeep Hurricane is simply the most maneuverable, most capable and most powerful 4x4 ever built," said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President - Chrysler Group Design. "It pays homage to the extreme enthusiasts' Jeep vehicles in form and off-road capability, but is a unique interpretation of Jeep design. …

    The … vehicle has a 5.7 HEMI engine in the rear of the vehicle and another HEMI in the front! … Each HEMI pumps out 335 horsepower with 370 lb-ft of torque - a total of 670 hp and 740 lb-ft of torque. …[Why] two HEMI engines? The Jeep Hurricane has Multi-Displacement System (MDS). Depending on the drivers needs, either 4, 8, 12, or 16 cylinders will be used. The Jeep Hurricane will have unbelievable torque for climbing obstacles other 4x4 vehicles could only dream of tackling. And if it didn’t sound like it could get any better, the Jeep Hurricane can move from 0-60 [in] less than five seconds …

    The vehicles power is delivered through a central transfer case and split axles with a mechanically controlled four-wheel torque distribution system. … Ground clearance for the Hurricane is 14.3 inches, and incredible near vertical degree approach/departure angles of 64.0 /86.7 degrees. Additionally, the Jeep Hurricane has 37 inch tires, so there are few obstacles the Hurricane meets that it can’t climb.

    … Jeep Hurricane to date is the only vehicle that provides its own turnable feature. It has a turn radius of absolutely zero, thanks to toe steer and skid steer capabilities: the ability to turn both front and rear tires inward. Additionally, the Jeep Hurricane has two modes of automated four-wheel steering. First is traditional with its rear tires turning in the opposite direction of the front to reduce the turning circle. The second mode is an innovative way to targeted off-road drivers: the Hurricane can turn all four wheels in the same direction for nimble crab steering. This allows the Jeep to move sideways without changing the direction the vehicle is pointing.

    While out in the wilderness, changing direction with limited space can mean the difference between an afternoon of adventure, or a distress call after failed winch attempts. "The multi-mode four-wheel steering system on Jeep Hurricane is designed to offer enthusiasts the next level of performance and unexpected maneuverability." Creed said.

    The Jeep Hurricane’s body is one-piece shaped of structural carbon fiber. The suspension and powertrain are mounted directly to the body. To act as a skid plate, an aluminum spine runs under the body to both connect the underside directly to the body.

    The overall design is light with intense strength offering brute force. The Jeep Hurricane has the signature seven-slot grille, two seats and no doors. On the inside, occupants will be surrounded by exposed carbon fiber and polished aluminum with Black accents.

    Jeep Hurricane Steering

    The Hurricane's steering system is about as complex as most entire cars are all by itself. There are several steering modes using four-wheel independent steering. What this means in simple English is that each wheel can turn separately from the others for this Jeep.

    - The Jeep Hurricane's split-axle design -
    Each axle can rotate in the same direction to apply a downward force to each wheel simultaneously.

    In regular steering mode, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels, which severely tightens the turning radius adding more accurate steering. In second mode, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, which mean the Jeep Hurricane can "crab-steer" -- move to the side without changing the direction that it faces. This whole concept is amazing in my opinion, not something you'd find on a wrangler or cherokee.

    The third mode actually allows the vehicle to rotate in place utilizing the "T-Box Zero Steer" mechanism, allowing all four wheels to "toe-in" and changes the drive direction to each wheel so that they alternate.

    Jeep Hurricane Specifications

    Weight (estimated): 3,850 lbs. (1,746 kg)
    Length: 151.8 inches (3,856 mm)
    Wheelbase: 108.1 inches (2,746 mm)
    Front Overhang: 25.0 inches (635 mm)
    Rear Overhang: 18.7 inches (475mm)
    Width: 80.0 inches (2,033 mm)
    Height: 68.2 inches (1,732 mm)
    Track, Frt/Rr: 67.5/67.5 inches (1,715/1,715 mm)
    Engine: two 5.7-liter HEMI® engines
    Transfer Case: Custom multi-mode with 1:1, 2:1 and 4:1 ratios
    Transmission: 5-Speed automatic
    Front and Rear Suspension: Long-travel, short/long arm independent
    Ground Clearance: 14.3 inches (363 mm)
    Break-Over Angle: 31.5 degrees
    Approach/Depart Angle: 64.0/86.7 degrees
    Tire Size: 305/70R20
    Wheel Size: 20x10 inches

    Jeep Hurricane Facts & Figures

    Engine: Two 5.7 liter, 8-cylinder HEMI engines
    Horsepower: 670 hp
    Torque: 740 ft-lb
    Transmission: 5-speed automatic
    Curb Weight: 3,850 lbs (1,746 kg)
    Length: 151.8 inches (385.6 cm) Width: 80 inches (203.2 cm)
    Wheelbase: 108.1 inches (274.6 cm)
    Wheels: 20x10 inches (51x25 cm)
    Tires: 305/70R20 (all four)
    0-60 mph (97 kph): 4.9 seconds

    All content Copyright© 2006 (Not affiliated with DaimlerChrysler)

  9. #9

    Default Amphibious Cars/Vehicles - Amphicar

    Amphibious Cars/Vehicles
    Designed for land or water, these vehicles started as primarily cars that could be adapted to be boats, complete with masts.
    They evolved into military and civilian vehicles that could function as both motor cars and motor boats (mast not normally an option).


    Vintage Photos

    right - LBJ in an Amphicar

    left - in Chicago on the river; right in San Francisco near Bay Bridge

    Has a driver's licence but no boating equivalent ...

    Photos - International Amphicar Owners Club

    The Amphicar has a top speed of [7 knots (about 8 mph)]... on water and 70mph on land... When new the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year. Later model years actually sold for less than those of early years.
    History of the Amphicar

    The Amphicar was built in Germany from 1961 to 1968 [from prototypes developed by Hanns Trippel]. Total production was 3,878 vehicles. The Amphicar is the only civilian amphibious passenger automobile ever to be mass produced. 3,046 Amphicars were imported into the United States between 1961 and 1967. The Amphicar is rear engined and uses a 4 cylinder British-built Triumph Herald motor producing 43hp. All Amphicars are convertibles, and the civilian models were originally offered in only 4 colors, Beach White, Regatta Red, Lagoon Blue and Fjord Green (Aqua).

    The backbone of the Amphicar's electrics is basically a Lucas 12 volt positive ground system with certain items such as the horn, lighting and switches made by other manufacturers such as Hella and Bosch.

    The Amphicar has a top speed of 7mph on water and 70mph on land. Hence, it was dubbed the "Model 770". The Amphicar is moved in the water by its twin nylon propellers. A special two-part land-and-water transmission built by Hermes (makers of the Porsche transmission) allows the wheels and propellers to be operated either independently or simultaneously. The "land transmission" is a 4-speed-plus-reverse unit similar to those found in the old Volkswagen Beetles. The "water transmission" is a 2-speed offering unique to the Amphicar featuring single forward and reverse gears. In the water, the front wheels act as rudders.

    When new the Amphicar sold for between $2,800 and $3,300, depending on the year. Later model years actually sold for less than those of early years. No 1968 model year Amphicars were directly imported into the USA. This was because of the U.S. Government's EPA and DOT regulations that went into effect beginning with 1968 model year vehicles. This caused a major financial disaster for the Amphicar Corporation since the USA represented about 90% of all Amphicar sales. The Amphicar factory in Berlin, Germany closed for good in 1968, and the remaining inventory of unused parts was eventually purchased by Hugh Gordon of Sante Fe Springs, California. Hugh's Gordon Imports remains the Amphicar owner's primary source for spare parts.

    There are several other excellent sites on the 'Net about the History and Design of the Amphicar...

    [More Recent "Random" Photos of Restored Amphicars
    on this website]

    Copyright ©2002-2006 International Amphicar Owners Club. All rights reserved.

  10. #10

    Default Amphibious Cars/Vehicles - WaterCar (WaterCar Inc.)

    Amphibious Cars/Vehicles


    ... The WaterCar can reach speeds of over 125 MPH on land and 45 MPH on water.
    Dave March - Builder of the WaterCar

    David March

    WaterCar, Inc. is the brainchild of Dave March and his two sons. For over thirty years March has been an avid high performance car and boat enthusiast. His passion and desire has been for building and piloting fast planes, boats and cars. To facilitate his obsession for cars and boats he also developed a knack for repairing wrecked cars and boats. For the past twenty years March started and developed his collision repair business into one of the largest, most state of the art facilities in the world. He then took many of the systems and repair techniques that he developed and co-founded the Caliber Collision Center Franchise which currently has annual revenue of over 155 million.

    In 1998 March accepted an offer to sell his business and semi-retired. After putting the finishing touches on his large custom home he built on the golf course in Newport Coast above his 6,000 square foot basement garage/design center equipped with every conceivable tool and piece of equipment imaginable found himself with a lot of spare time and pent up creative juices. This is dangerous combination for Dave March. He was looking for a challenge when his youngest son began looking at amphibious cars. Together they found a 1964 Amphicar and restored it. After all the work, they were disappointed by its performance. It was fun to drive into the water, but once in the water, it was slow and not as much fun as expected.

    March threw himself into researching every amphibious vehicle in the world and discovered that amphibious vehicles are much more popular in Europe. And, to his astonishment, he realized that of all the vehicles ever built, no one had successfully built a true high performance amphibious vehicle.

    That's when it hit him - why not combine his love of high performance cars and boats into a single, high performance amphibious car? "Everything he needed was right here in Southern California". The best hydraulics are available from the low-rider crowd and the rear-engine drive technology from the high performance sand-rail market. Every drive train combination you could imagine is available for inspection at Glamis. The brakes, suspension and speed accessories come from the hot rod aftermarket industry which is booming in Southern California. The most important part, hull and jet configuration, from the performance- boat industry along with unlimited input from great boat people that are very willing to help. He started thinking he could build a high performance amphibious car from off the shelf parts.

    March wanted to build a four-seater, yet still keep the car sporty looking. The 2002 Camaro was the ideal starting point. He purchased a Camaro fiberglass funny-car shell body, added hundreds of labor hours and he had a great looking Camaro car/boat plug. He built the molds from the plug and proceeded to build the first parts.

    March built a lightweight stainless frame to mount the suspension and motor to and fit it to the body. The challenge was to make the wheels retractable. He attended a couple of low-rider shows to figure how to make the wheels retractable and settled on using parts from Homies Hydraulics. The motor and jet combo was another significant challenge, particularly getting it all to fit in the trunk area. March wanted the WaterCar to look as much like a stock Camaro as possible.

    The first time on the water, the vehicle performed beautifully, with only one significant problem: "It wouldn't plane out!" He made multiple trial trips back and forth to the lake, adding more boost for additional power and tinkering on the jet setup. After some additional work on the bottom, he was finally getting on plane easily and reaching 45 mph. Success at last!

    The newest version of March's handiwork drives just like a car on the road and actually handles very well with the Corvette suspension. "It has plenty of power from the Subaru 2.5 Turbo WRX motor. When you go in the water, you simply drive in, put the transmission in neutral, engage the jet, flip the switch to raise the wheels, and you're boating.

    March claims he had no idea of the sheer amount of attention the WaterCar would get everywhere it goes. Heads turn, and often when driving down the freeway people are waving. When I'm in the water, the big question is, 'Does it really drive on land?' and when on land, "Does it really go in the water?".

    The vehicle's performance hitting speeds of 45 MPH on water and 125 MPH on land have exceeded even March's expectations, whether he is cruising down the freeway or out on the lake. "It has been the subject of literally thousands of thumbs-up and high fives. It is amazing how many people whip out their cameras to get a shot of it."

    With all the success March has decided to start producing the WaterCar in limited quantities. He is offering the WaterCars as a finished turn-key version or and a complete rolling chassis version less engine.

    WaterCar Specifications

    The WaterCar is a fiberglass amphibious vehicle styled after the 2002 Convertible Camaro body style. It is powered by a Turbo charged 2.5 Liter 300 HP Subaru engine. The transmission is a Rancho Type I-4 speed manual transmission. The four wheel independent suspension and brakes are late model C-4 Corvette with stainless steel rotors.

    The WaterCar can reach speeds in excess of 125 MPH on land and the drivability with the Corvette suspension is outstanding. Once the WaterCars is driven into the water all four wheels are hydraulically retracted with the flip of a switch. The bottom covers that enclose the wheel well are also hydraulically extended to create a smooth high speed bottom which allows the WaterCar to easily hit speeds of 40 MPH on the water. The Marine Drive is a Berkeley 12JE Jet Drive with a place diverter to control the ride depending on water conditions. The WaterCar has four usable seats and the doors are fully functional. The aircraft style lock assembly assures the doors are completely water tight for water operation. The WaterCar has a removable center mount ski pole which makes it ideal for wake boarding or skiing.

    This sporty four-seater makes it possible to drive to the lake, experience an exhilarating boat ride and drive back home again without ever leaving your car!

    Copyright © 2005 WaterCar, Inc.

    "Amphibious car"

    YouTube Video Runtime - 01:30

  11. #11

    Default Amphibious Cars/Vehicles - AmphiGator (WaterCar Inc.)

    Amphibious Cars/Vehicles


    All above photos - WaterCar Inc.

  12. #12

    Default Amphibious Cars/Vehicles - Gibbs Aquada

    Amphibious Cars/Vehicles

    Gibbs Technologies Aquada

    Courtesy Motortrend

    Prototypes have been able to reach speeds of 110 mph on land and 45 mph on water, while transitioning between the two in just five seconds.
    Gibbs Aquada amphibious car finally ready for production
    by Rory Jurnecka
    Posted June 14 2007 05:09 PM

    It might look like the last-generation Miata, but you should see it swim.

    We've been following the development of the Gibbs Aquada for years while financial issues and drivetrain supply problems have kept the amphibious car from coming to production. Good news has finally been announced from the Gibbs camp as it appears a finished version is ready to be sold in the U.S. The production-version 2009 Gibbs Aquada made its debut today at a press conference in Detroit alongside the Gibbs Quadski, an all-terrain vehicle.

    It wouldn't be the first time an amphibious car has been developed. In the 1960s, the German-built Amphicar sold nearly 4000 copies, with more than 3000 of that total being delivered stateside. More recently, the Swiss automaker/tuner Rinspeed built a similar concept, the Rinspeed Splash, for the 2004 Geneva auto show. The Splash never entered production, however.

    Gibbs envisions the Aquada selling in much stronger volumes than any amphibious car to have preceded it. After spending more than $100 million and some one million hours of development work over the last decade, the automaker has determined sales could reach over 100,000 Aquadas annually in just five years' time.

    While that might seem a bit ambitious, Gibbs certainly doesn't look like it's joking around. The company is currently recruiting an executive staff and expects to employ over 1500 within the next three years in positions ranging from engineering to human resources.

    Production of the Aquada is slated for late 2008 with the earliest examples arriving in early 2009. As reported by The Detroit News, the Motor City is under consideration as the headquarters of Gibbs' U.S. operations, the only drawback being difficulty testing the vehicles in Michigan's inclement winter weather.

    Prototypes have been able to reach speeds of 110 mph on land and 45 mph on water, while transitioning between the two in just five seconds. In 2004, an Aquada prototype set the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel, accomplishing the feat in less than two hours. Gibbs also has plans to develop a number of military operations vehicles with Lockheed Martin in the near future.

    © 1996-2008 Source Interlink Media, Inc Magazines, Inc. All Rights Reserved

    The design of the Aquada's hull

    Courtesy howstuffworks / Gibbs Aquada

  13. #13

    Default Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft - Taylor Aerocar I

    Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft
    Designed for road or air flight, we start where they are being introduced to the public
    as something other than a "pie in the sky" idea (pun intended

    Taylor Aerocar I

    Moulton “Molt” Taylor, a former U.S. Navy pilot, was the first designer of a “roadable aircraft” (aka “flyable car”), that was eventually certified by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) – the predecessor to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It took approximately eight years after its first test flight until this invention was certified. During the eight year period, Molt Taylor demonstrated the aircraft to the military, but his efforts were left unrewarded. He called his consumer creation “Aerocar”. The first models were collectively referred to as Aerocar I (only five of which were built).

    I find it interesting that Molt Taylor, while in the Navy, worked with amphibious aircraft, since our prior set of posts have outlined amphibious cars. Obvious dovetail aside, this aircraft while not a success in sales, was nevertheless a precursor that established the way.

    The car portion, with its 4-cylinder 150 hp engine, could be driven separately. But to take the entire aircraft to the airport one usually employed the car to tow the folded up portion of the rest of the aircraft like a trailer on wheels, albeit folded-up to aid in “navigating” the road. Subtle weight considerations, balancing issues, and aerodynamics were all employed in creating the car/cockpit: the engine was horizontally mounted in the boot; the mounting was further refined to minimise vibration; the exterior wheels were a hybrid of car/aircraft; the sheet metal was aluminium, that was rounded on its corners and gradually reshaped after extensive air testing; the chassis is completely covered as one would expect for the same aerodynamic reasons.

    When on-site, and ready to assemble, the car/cockpit/landing wheels into an aircraft, is fascinating. The folded wings are positioned on the top of the car (weight balance over the rear wheels and rear engine). These wings are then unfolded to form what pilots would normally call a “high-wing” monoplane. The rear fuselage is attached to the rear of the car, but two last details are worth noting. The propeller, instead of being on the front of the aircraft, is on the rearmost section. This makes the Aeroplane into what pilots call a “pusher”. And the Y-shaped tail section is also a difference not normally seen.

    - Zephyr

    Car and Trailer

    TO VIEW VINTAGE “News in Brief” on Aerocar VIDEO

    Aircraft Assembled
    Note wing, engine and propeller locations

    Above Drawings Courtesy of pilotfriend

    Taylor had hoped to sell the Aerocar by appealing to the rich and famous, parades, news releases etc. Robert "Bob" Cummings, American television and film celebrity, was one of the Aerocar's first buyers. Cummings was an amateur pilot and is in the photo below:


    Raúl Castro, Fidel’s brother, also tested the Taylor Aerocar.


    in Spanish

    Raúl Castro in Aerocar


    YouTube Running Time 02:44

  14. #14

    Default Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft - Other Aerocars

    Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft

    Other Aerocars

    After Aerocar I, there were other Aerocars. Officially, however, there was no "Aerocar II," since the next Taylor creation was referred to as Aerocar Aero-Plane. Yet, because there was a subsequent Aerocar III (see below), many have attempted to retroactively rename Aerocar Aero-Plane, the "Aerocar II":

    Selling the Airplane Only - Aerocar Aero-Plane
    (aka Aerocar I-A or Aerocar II)

    Courtesy aerofiles

    As you can see, Aero-Plane was aircraft only - no car portion, and "no assembly required" in this form. This version had three wheels instead of four, the front wheel allowing the aircraft to taxi. The tyres are noticeably smaller as well.

    Next was an unbundled attempt to sell versions of the car from Aerocar I. That led to the "Sky Car," and an optional push-propeller version meant to drive over ice:

    Repackaging the Car only - Sky Car / Ice Car
    (aka Aerocar I-C)

    Courtesy aerofiles

    The Aerocar III was a rebuilt Aerocar I, that was more streamlined in the car portion, but otherwise remarkably similar to Aerocar I on the aircraft side, as one would expect for a rebuilt reissue.

    Aerocar III
    (rebuilt Aerocar I with streamlined car portion)

    © 2004, The Museum of Flight (Seattle). All Rights Reserved


    at Seattle's Museum of Flight

    Fully Assembled

    Photo - Phil Callihan

    one wing up and the other folded

  15. #15

    Default Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft - Sweeney Aerocar 2000

    Flyable Car / Roadable Aircraft

    Sweeney Aerocar 2000

    Ed Sweeney's prized possessions
    Aerocar I (left) / Aerocar 2000 protype (right)

    Ed Sweeney in Foreground

    all photos above - planet patent


    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    DRIVING; Where the Chitty Chitty Meets the Bang Bang

    Published: August 2, 2002

    ED SWEENEY first flew in a car in 1959, when he was 17, an age when all things seem possible. He still thinks they are.

    A car is not an airplane. An airplane is not a car. Complex structures have grown up around this assumption of separateness – roads and runways, state departments of motor vehicles and federal air traffic controllers, the Interstate System of highways and the Federal Aviation Administration.

    But did it all have to develop this way? Why not a vehicle that both flies in the air and drives on the ground? The technical challenges are not that difficult – the craft's wings fold up or come off, its wheels come out of hiding, and away it goes down the highway. And it's even been done, more than once. It has just never quite caught on with the American public.

    But it did catch on with Ed Sweeney. He has been captivated by the idea of a flying automobile for more than 40 years, since that first ride in an Aerocar with its inventor, Moulton B. Taylor, a Navy pilot and missile designer. The Aerocar, a tiny two-seater with detachable wings, was pushing the envelope of personal mobility when it first flew in 1956, one of the few certifiably airworthy vehicles ever built that was capable of traveling both in the air and on the highway. Mr. Taylor built five, but like other flying cars before it, the Aerocar never won the backing of a company that could mass-produce and market it.

    Mr. Sweeney was a teenager with an advanced case of model-airplane fever when he went to the small airport that Mr. Taylor was running in Longview, Wash., and introduced himself. Mr. Taylor invited him for a ride in the Aerocar. It was the beginning of a friendship that would last until Mr. Taylor's death in 1995.

    Today, Mr. Sweeney, retired in Black Forest, Colo., after a career that included publishing a model-airplane magazine and manufacturing light aircraft, owns the very Aerocar he flew in that day in 1959. He both flies it and drives it
    – most often at auto and air shows, with his wife a frequent passenger – though keeping auto insurance coverage remains a constant challenge. It's easier to renew the Aerocar's airworthiness certificate every year, he said, than to keep it in license plates. But he manages.

    ''I've had my Aerocar up to 11,000 feet,'' he said. ''We were flying out of Colorado and that was already 5,000 feet, so we were halfway there.''

    The Aerocar can drive at a maximum speed of 45 miles an hour, slower if it's towing its wings, and it gets about 10 miles per gallon, Mr. Sweeney said. Its maximum flying speed is 90 miles an hour, and it can fly 200 miles before needing a fill-up.

    He enjoys the reaction of air traffic controllers when he calls to ask for clearance to use an airport: ''You ask the tower, 'Can I drive down your runway really fast and take off?' ''

    When he and his wife lived in Florida several years ago, they often flew the Aerocar from Daytona Beach to Orlando. ''The air traffic controllers at Orlando Executive Airport became good friends; we knew all of them,'' he said. ''They would report me as traffic to other aircraft: 'You have an automobile in your 9 o'clock position. Same altitude.' They would hear back reports: 'Say again? What type of aircraft?' and then, 'Oh my Lord, you're not kidding – where did that come from?' ''

    He says that his is the only Aerocar – and probably the only flying car of any kind – that's now in active use. The other four Taylor Aerocars are in museums, along with a variety of craft whose inventors tried to bridge the transportation gap between earth and sky. But Mr. Sweeney still believes in the concept. He is building his own modified, modernized Aerocar – he bought the trademark in 1988 – and is serious about its mass-market potential.

    THE flying car is an old idea, and when the automobile and the airplane were both in their infancy, it didn't seem farfetched. Cars and planes share similar engines, and planes spend a considerable amount of time taxiing on the ground. Who knew where transportation was headed?

    In 1917, Glenn Curtiss, the pioneer airplane builder and a founder of the Curtiss-Wright aircraft company, combined a four-wheel sedan and a triplane with a 40-foot wingspan. It hopped up off the ground but never flew. In the 20's, Henry Ford worked on a ''flying flivver'' – not a car that flew but an everyman's airplane (with a Model A engine) intended to be the aeronautical counterpart to the Model T. The project was abandoned after a prototype crashed in 1928 and killed Ford's friend and test pilot, Harry Brooks. Another project, the 1937 Arrowbile, was a Studebaker that looked like a flying wing with a detachable car pod. It flew but was never produced.

    The 1946 Airphibian, one of the more successful efforts, was made by Robert Edison Fulton – an inventor, though no relation to either the Robert Fulton of steamboat fame or to Thomas Edison. The Airphibian was flown to several cities, and a photograph of it in the air over the New York skyline was published in Life magazine in October 1949. After a trip by ship, it was also photographed – this time wingless, in its car guise – in a London street.

    But despite its occasional triumphs, the flying car has been stalled by questions of cost, engineering and practicality. For best performance, small planes need to be light, and the extra components and stronger structure needed to make the car drivable create excessive weight. Pragmatists have argued that a cheap airplane and a cheap car would be less complicated and perform better than a hybrid, and they have prevailed. The Aerocar worked, but at a cost of about $25,000 in the 50's, it was more expensive than many light aircraft of its day and 10 times the cost of a car.

    One dedicated owner was Bob Cummings, a comic actor who starred in early television sitcoms. In one of them, ''The Bob Cummings Show,'' produced in the late 1950's, the Aerocar was written into the scripts. Cummings, who shared his fictional counterpart's reputation as a ladies' man, kept a logbook that Mr. Taylor preserved after buying the Aerocar back from him; the passengers Cummings recorded included Marilyn Monroe. Ed Sweeney's restored Aerocar – the one that has bracketed his adulthood – is the same one Cummings owned.

    To build his modern model, which hasn't yet flown, Mr. Sweeney started with a Lotus Elise, a two-seat sports car that is one of the lightest cars on the road. Installing a smaller engine reduced the car's weight even further, to about 1,500 pounds. To make it fly, he is adding brackets that attach to what he calls a flight module – an assembly with wings and tail, powered by a more powerful Lotus engine. ''The automotive engine is far less expensive than an aircraft engine,'' Mr. Sweeney said. The overall effect is as if a giant pterodactyl had come down and seized the Lotus sports car. But Mr. Sweeney can envision a sky full of them.

    Traveling in it wouldn't be quite the free-form experience envisioned by the driver stuck in traffic who fantasizes about shutting off the talking-book tape, pulling back on the steering wheel and just taking off. But Mr. Sweeney thinks it could be convenient. His idea is that an owner would drive the car to the airport, where a supply of flight modules would be available to rent. The module would be attached in a short time (he estimates 15 minutes), and the plane would be ready to go. At its destination airport, the pilot would drop off the flight module for the next renter, and drive away.

    ''Molt Taylor and I spent years drawing up a list of the technology needed to make a flying car practical today,'' Mr. Sweeney said, and advances in technology have shrunk that list. ''I firmly believe the future of air transportation has to include air vehicles.''

    Building the car that makes it happen may be a lonely endeavor, but, Mr. Sweeney said, ''no matter how long it takes, I will do it.''

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

    Aerocar 2000

    Assembly Rendering

    photos - Motor Actual

    Final Aircraft Rendering

    photo - aerocar next generation

    Motor Cars necessary for their respective Roadable Aircrafts

    Molt Taylor created Sky Car, on left, for Aerocars I;
    Ed Sweeney supervised use of a modified Lotus Elise on right, for his proposed Aerocar 2000

    photo credit - Strange Birds

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