Finnish company 18 Wheels has come up with one of the weirdest off-road vehicle prototypes we’ve ever seen: an electric all-terrain vehicle with…a perfect number of wheels for the company of the same name. Really, that’s luck. Imagine if there were only 16 of them!
People will demand refunds. They’re all like “Hey, I thought this thing was supposed to have 18 wheels, what about the other wheels?”
Luckily, 18 Wheels makes sure that doesn’t happen by supplying their machines with 18 wheels. Although you do wonder what they would have done if during testing they found that 16 wheels worked better. Or for that matter, 26. These are trivial questions for a company not named after multiple wheels, but for these guys, they could be life and death.
The 18 wheels on 18 Wheels’ 18-wheeler are not only independently suspended, but also electrically powered, so when it rolls over rocky, uneven ground, it becomes a happy little caterpillar.
As you can see in the video below, the 2022 prototype has wheels suspended on flexible, bent metal sheets that drag backwards and roll over small logs as the vehicle creeps forward.
demo 18 wheels
As shown at the end of the video above, the next-gen machine was designed to test a very different suspension system, in which each wheel has a more complex suspension arm protruding from the center of the vehicle to the side, along with its own single shock absorber.
The steering obviously makes all those wheels do sideways turns to turn. Hopefully there’s some electronics involved, not some brutal lever-making, and maybe the outer wheel can be driven faster than the inner wheel to avoid this thing having a turning circle like a cruise ship.
These suspension arms actually lean forward. 18 Wheels says the design rolls easily over obstacles as tall as 20cm (7.9in) with “no loss of speed,” but honestly, we’re more interested in what happens when the obstacle is a little taller than that.
One wonders if there is a “loss” of “speed” in the design process here. Twenty centimeters is the kind of bump the average dirt bike rider might look at and say, “Well, shall I roll over, or throw a wheelie, or see if I can get a little air out of it?”
So it’s unclear exactly what kind of problem 18 Wheels 18 is trying to solve with 18 wheels, other than to give the local suspension shop owner a week each time they have to service all those shocks in the Maldives.
Not to worry, says Eldar, the company’s CEO, CTO and founder: “As a physicist, I have a solid education and a deep understanding of the principles that govern the physical world.” He’s also poised to apply his “thorough understanding of cutting-edge solutions to drive operational excellence.”
In Finland they have a saying: “Grandma said forward in the snow. Roughly translated, this means “Forward,” says Grandma in the Snow, “I can’t help but think that applies here as well. We can’t wait to see the next prototype.”
source: 18 wheels