The Sidewinder is a new concept of a vehicle capable of moving in all directions. Each wheel has its own independent electric motor, transmission, brake system and controller. Driving the Sidewinder is performed using two joysticks, which control the speed and direction of all four wheels, through the use of a specially programmed microprocessor known as the Vehicle Master Controller.
The Sidewinder wheels’ hubs are not covered by a conventional rubber tire. Rather, each wheel hub is encircled with specially shaped rollers that are angled from the wheel axis. These rollers are made from several materials, including urethane (a highly durable material). The combination of joystick input and computer assisted control allows the vehicle to move forward, sideways, diagonally and basically in every direction you can think of. Unlike conventional vehicles the Sidewinder can rotate in its own footprint or make a 90 or 45 degrees turn without even turning around, allowing it to maneuver like no other vehicle.
The Sidewinder costs just under $40,000, making it somewhat more expensive than conventional lifters. However, for customers who have to deal with confined spaces the Sidewinder seems like a great solution. Airtrax, the company that developed the Sidewinder, is also working on other vehicles based on the same Omni-Directional technology. Still, it’s unlikely we will see this specific technology used in conventional cars anytime soon.
TFOT covered an entirely different concept for improved maneuverability (or actually improved visibility) developed by Nissan, named Pivo. The Pivo concept electric car was first unveiled to the public at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. It had three seats, used Nissan’s high-performance lithium-ion battery, and had a 360 degrees revolving cabin, which allowed the small car to drive in reverse as if it was driving forward.