The folks over at Ohio State University, spearheaded by Junmin Wang, are currently testing a golf-caddy-looking prototype called Four-Wheel Independently Actuated (FWIA) which runs without an engine, transmission or even differential.
Their concept seems a little crazy at first, but actually it isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. Back in the 1900’s Ferdinand Porsche developed a hybrid vehicle with two hub-mounted motors on the front wheels.
However, in contrary to Porsche’s car, the FWIA is more eco-friendly because it doesn’t run on gasoline. Instead, it runs on four 7.5kW electric motors attached to each of the FWIA’s wheels; each powered by a 15kW lithium-ion battery pack.
And that’s not all. These four independent motors are all linked to an on-board computer that controls how each wheel behaves to ensure a safe and comfy ride. This involves accurately measuring the brake, gas pedal and steering a hundred times a second!
Unfortunately, according to Junmin Wang, the FWIA won’t be seeing the light of the day anytime soon. However, he claims that the team will continue to refine their vehicle to be more efficient and safe.