Wheels, it turns out, are very passé. Balls is where it’s at. At least that’s what a student team from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University is out to prove with the above early prototype of the Spherical Drive System, a self-balancing electric bike that rolls on spheres friction-driven by three off-center rotors. This setup should technically give the vehicle omni-directional manoeuvrability. Why? Because the future, that’s why. And also because the students believe it to be safer than conventional bikes, and that it would provide the rider with more driving freedom. We… buy the freedom thing, but we’re not sold on the safety part.
Still, the balls themselves are solid, made from carbon fiber and fiberglass with an industrial rubber coating, and the team has already taken delivery of them along with other essential parts. They’re still assembling the prototype as well as working on the software and they hope to have it ready to test by the end of 2012. Obviously since this is a student project, it’d be really optimistic to expect fast development and commercial availability any time soon, although they are looking for sponsor. Consider this project a proof of concept for now, a concept for which there may not even be a demand. But hey: the future!
Hit the jump for pics and links.