How to Build a Better Off-Roader: Use SCIENCE


A group of French designers have developed a revolutionary new off-roader vehicle that resembles a mechanical arachnid on wheels. Designed by Pascal Rambaud, Jerome Arsac, and Thierry James, and built by french startup Mecanroc, the Swincar e-Spider uses pure physics to scurry nimbly over the toughest terrain.

Off-Roader Designed with Science in Mind

In physics, shifting the center of gravity is a simple way of enabling an object to turn a corner; think of a motorcyclist leaning into a curve. When more wheels are added to a vehicle, the ability to lean is traded for an increase in stability. Some vehicles, such as Toyota’s three-wheeled i-Road, use gyroscopes and a complex array of electrical sensors to restore the ability to shift the center of gravity and lean in to tight turns.

The Swincar is ingeniously designed to work with the principles of physics to push the limits of off-road driving. The cockpit is suspended between four independent arms at points higher than the driver’s center of gravity. This allows the weight of the driver to swing outward around a curve, while a linkage to the wheels keeps them parallel to the angle of the cockpit. While the Swincar’s wheels will flexibly react to any obstacle, the human driver remains consistently upright throughout the drive.


Totyota’s I-Road.


Putting the “Fun” in Off-Roader “Function”

Off-roading is the Swincar’s true calling. Each “arm” of the spider-like vehicle can function on its own, allowing for adaptive maneuvering over obstacles. The Swincar is capable of straddling large gaps and easily treks over separate, uneven tracks. The e-Spider is capable of traveling up and down steep 70% grades, and across grades of up to 50%. Each wheel is powered separately by a 1000w brushless electric motor, which is capable of charging whenever the driver hits the brakes. This energy saving touch can extend driving time up to four hours.

Driving the Swincar is easy; the driver still uses a traditional steering wheel that turns the front and rear wheels in opposition to each other. A variant controlled by a joystick is in development. The new off-roader vehicle is electrically powered with a battery pack ranging from 2 to 6 kWh and can travel for approximately four hours on a full charge depending on the chosen battery pack. Max speed is currently 45 kilometers per hour (slightly less than 29 mph).

Currently the Swincar carries a single passenger. Mecanroc is looking to develop a two seat off-roader vehicle. Although the designers have been developing the car for the past eight years, it is still a prototype car and not yet in production stages. Mecanroc is seeking for investors for large scale production. The company will showcase its product at the upcoming Lyon auto show at the end of September 2015.

Watch Swincar’s official video on YouTube here!

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