Star Wars prequels inspire EDWARD, a most unusual electric vehicle [w/video]

The Hailfire Droid from Star Wars is one slick vehicle. The only downside is the closest you could get to driving one is by buying the Lego version. The EDWARD, on the other hand, is a diwheel that actually exists. An acronym standing for Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping, EDWARD was developed over several years at the University of Adelaide.

This futuristic vehicle is propelled entirely by electric drive and packs sealed lead acid batteries good for an hour of driving. Its top speed is about 25 mph, limited mainly by the drive ratio of the motor and wheels. The maximum incline it can traverse is about 12 degrees due to its high center of gravity, but there is a reason for this. See, this project was more than just a mechanical engineering exercise. The students wanted to design a fully functioning control system that would enable "slosh" control (tumbling in heavy braking or acceleration maneuvers), as well as other neat tricks including the ability to drive while upside down.

To fully appreciate the diwheel and control system, click through past the break for a 5 minute video of it in action.

[Source: University of Adelaide via TreeHugger | Image: University of Adelaide]

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