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This self-propelled geodesic sphere
can be used for earthbound transport, recreation or extraterrestrial exploration. Imagine two large balloons, one inside the other. Each is made of a flexible but durable, transparent skin. The space between them is divided by walls into cells, like a honeycomb. The cells are filled with a gas or liquid,
and the cells at the bottom are slightly deflated. Two methods of propulsion could be used:
- Every shared cell wall has a valve and pump. The next cells in the line of travel pump gas/liquid to the cells at the bottom that, in turn, pump to cells at the back. Thus, the front cells deflate, the back cells inflate and gravity causes the wheelloon to roll forward.
- Another, slower method, but with no moving parts, would be to heat or cool different cells to make them expand or contract, respectively.
With both methods, turning, stopping and reverse are achieved by deflating/inflating cells on another axis than the present direction of travel. The wheelloons payload would be housed in the inner sphere, rotating with it or staying level using bearings (preferable with occupants). This design could be applied to a probe on the surface of another planet or for terrestrial transport on fairly level ground.
(???) Wheelloon in action
[FarmerJohn, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]
||North or south of the equator, it would make a curved path-> C
||Part baked. the Zorb ball is meant for bounceing down
mountainsides and hills at speeds in excess of 40MPH. it's
very fun, but extreamly nerve wracking if it pops.
||Isn't NASA using something like this on one of their next unmanned planet probes?