April 23, 2024

Drones & Vehicles
Energy & Sustainability






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Most land-based vehicles are not particularly unique in their designs, specifically regarding their number of wheels. Bicycles have two, tricycles have three, cars have four, and big rigs have even more. However, an innovative Finnish company aptly named 18 Wheels reimagined this sacred vehicle-to-wheel ratio with an electric ATV design featuring — you guessed it — a fully functioning 18-wheel drive.

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The company’s founder, Eldar Aliev, has been closely following the evolution of electric vehicles for many years and is well-versed in the untapped potential of the electric wheel motor – and its undeniable problems. Aliev explains, “Although it’s evident that the wheel motor is the optimal solution for electric transportation, their use significantly increases the unsprung mass of the vehicle…especially in high-speed driving.” While working on alleviating these weight distribution difficulties and motor efficiency issues, Aliev and his team hit upon a creative solution that involved decreasing the wheel’s diameter. But because a small wheel can’t handle diverse terrain alone, 18 Wheels invented a suspension system capable of supporting nine axles within the dimensions of a standard ATV or snowmobile — at less than half its original weight. The resulting creation looks like a gigantic centipede crawling across the ground, albeit one that can smoothly traverse virtually any surface at almost 40 miles per hour.

So many wheels may seem like a strange choice, but it’s all calculated according to Aliev’s design. “Because our ATV has 4.5 times as many wheels as a typical car, we were able to reduce the power of each wheel’s motor by 4.5 times without sacrificing the rest of the vehicle’s power, which ultimately results in a 22.5-fold increase in the electric motor’s efficiency.” The company is currently in the process of constructing its second prototype within a snowmobile-like frame, and they plan to apply its creative solution to other vehicle classes in the future. When asked about the idea’s ultimate goal, Aliev said, “The patent for the electric wheel motor was filed nearly 130 years ago, yet its widespread application has been lacking; we believe a renaissance of wheel motors is possible with our technology.”

This article appeared in Make: Volume 87.