After 5000+ years, is there really room to improve the design of the wheel?
• Yes, and today’s transportation needs make it more important than ever to do so.
Is the industry – really any industry – truly interested in changing the way they’ve done things for decades?
• All indications are yes, given enough incentive.
Are initial test results showing a persuasive advantage?
• 10-15% probably would be persuasive. However, in Orbis’ first test with an electric scooter, there was an immediate 40% range advantage over the standard hub motor wheel.
Why is Orbis in the position of developing all of this intellectual property when tens of thousands of engineers and designers work with wheels?
• First, although hubless designs have been built in the past, they have been created for “show,” not for efficiency, and they were less efficient, giving the hubless design an inferior reputation. Second, Orbis’ founders came from the electric vehicle industry, where innovation is welcome, and nothing is a “given.”
Their fresh look deconstructed the problems of the traditional designs that have gone before (think of a standard roller bearing). Mass and resistance flaws were identified and eliminated.
What are the specific advantages of the Orbis wheel?
• Wheel dynamics take two key forms: resistance to motion (Moment of Inertia) and weight or mass. The two are somewhat related. Lowering the Moment of Inertia of a wheel allows it to spin up and spin down quickly. Lowering the weight or mass of a wheel adds efficiency to a vehicle.
There are wheels made of carbon fiber – don’t they have a low moment of inertia as well?
• Orbis’ wheel in aluminum has a lower polar moment than a carbon fiber hub wheel. Our wheel’s lower mass results in reduced angular momentum, which translates into increased handling responsiveness.
What are advantages of the Orbis wheel to vehicle dynamics?
• Wheels are “unsprung weight.” That is, the weight of the wheel has a jarring effect on the vehicle it is installed on. That jarring effect can be suppressed with shock absorbers and compliant mounts. But the best way to suppress it is by lowering unsprung weight. The Orbis wheel weighs about the same as a conventional wheel, but lacks the mass of a drive axle. This dramatically cuts unsprung weight in all applications.
Any contribution to vehicle handing?
• The Orbis driven wheel has the lowest center of gravity of any wheel design known to us. The drive motor mass is just inches off the ground surface. This is a contribution to vehicle stability in cornering and in resistance to cross winds.
Acceleration, braking and cornering dynamics are optimized by the combination of Orbis advantages.
What vehicles are suited to benefiting from this design?
• Orbis’ improvements to the wheel are applicable to wheels on all vehicles. The Orbis wheel design delivers benefits whether powered or passive.
Is there a practical limit to the largest and smallest configurations?
• Orbis wheels for skateboards are possible. The practical lower limit is probably 3” in diameter. At the other end of the scale, wheels for large earth-moving equipment can exceed 10 feet in diameter and can easily be engineered with Orbis technology to provide significant real-world improvements.
What vehicle configurations are supported by the Orbis wheel?
• Orbis wheels can incorporate Ring-Drive or be undriven. Wheels can be driven independently or linked electronically. That means an Orbis equipped vehicle can be 2-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In addition, Orbis has developed an automatic 2-speed transmission that incorporates into the wheel.
Are there exotic materials or difficult processes involved in making the Orbis wheel?
• Not at all. Standard hardened aluminum alloys are machined on basic 5-axis CNC machinery to make the major Orbis Ring-Drive components and special engineered polymers for drive pinions, roller guides and spindle bearings.
Cost of goods for an Orbis wheel is competitive with conventional wheels.
How ready for manufacture is the Orbis Ring-Drive wheel?
• The design is in files that work in a wide range of CNC machines – meaning a flash drive with the files can be plugged into an industry standard machine, appropriate materials put into the machining chamber, and a wheel can be made in minutes.
Are there military applications?
• Yes, there are excellent, demonstrable advantages to applying Orbis technology to military vehicles carrying, cargo, troops and ordnance. Orbis is in consultation with specialized advisors in Washington, D.C. to get our concepts in front of military planners and appropriate legislators.
What are the advantages in military applications?
• With the drive systems in each wheel, the motive power of a vehicle is “distributed,” meaning the vehicle cannot be disabled with a hit to a single powerplant. There are layout and capacity advantages as well.
With the problems of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and some ‘hoverboards’, are there potential issues for Orbis?
• Orbis Ring-Drive is power-source-agnostic. That is, any source of electricity will work – from batteries to generators. In certain design applications, Li-ion batteries have proven unstable and have created problems. Orbis leadership has been in communication with companies experimenting with Li-ion as long ago as the late 1990s. We have learned from the mistakes of others. Orbis Ring-Drive is in no way tied to Li-ion or any other specific battery technology.