Researchers at Ohio State University have created the latest car of the future. The interesting characteristic of this new car is that it doesn’t have an engine, a transmission, or a differential. Thus it weighs half as much as a conventional car.
The way the car works is that each wheel has its own 7.4 kw electric motor with a 15 kilowatt lithium ion battery, all attached by an electric cable to a central computer system. The whole is controlled by a motion and traction control system.
Since the car has four independently running wheels, it is far more maneuverable than a conventional car, which has its wheels connected mechanically. A driver more accustomed to a conventional car might have greater difficulty keeping this car under control without the computerized motion and traction system.
“In tests on good road conditions at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, the car followed a driver’s desired path within four inches (10 cm). To test slippery road conditions, the researchers took the car to an empty west campus parking lot on a snowy day. There, the car maneuvered with an accuracy of up to eight inches (20 cm), and the vehicle traction and motion control system prevented ‘fishtailing’ through independent control of the left and right sides of the car.”
There is no word about what the top speed of this new kind of car is nor its range. Ohio State researchers suggest that further refinements will be necessary before a car of this type actually hits the road. By that time battery power and storage capacity should improve to make it competitive to both gasoline powered cars and more conventional electric cars such as the Tesla.
Since this car is much lighter than more conventional cars, a lot of attention will also have to be paid to safety features. Otherwise a collision between this car and another twice its weight and mass would not bode well for its driver and passengers.