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BalanceTail

A counter-balance weight system for all-terrain vehicles
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This morning I was observing a squirrel dart around. I was amazed at how expertly the squirrel was able to change direction on a dime by pointing its tail in the opposite direction (of where the squirrel was going). It was his balancing mechanism. This got me thinking. All-terrain vehicles spend most of their time on uneven surfaces, increasing risk of roll-overs. If the back of the vehicle had a solid weight (200 pounds or so) connected by a rod to a motor system then if the vehicle got off balance the counter-weight system could kick in. Just like the squirrel's tail. It would certainly reduce fuel efficiency, but should increase safety.
nomadic_wonderer, Sep 09 2011

Toy car gets stability from ‘lizard tail’ http://www.futurity...y-from-lizard-tail/
[swimswim, Jan 13 2012]

Lizard Toy Car http://spectrum.iee...e-robots-more-agile
[fho, Jan 14 2012]

[link]






       not for motorways then?
po, Sep 09 2011
  

       ...then again if the counter-weight was on the wrong side, it could turn the vehicle into a trebuchet!
xandram, Sep 09 2011
  

       Put a bucket on it and you have a backhoe. (Great for when you need an emergency latrine.)
lurch, Sep 09 2011
  

       you would also need to somehow attach the brain and sensory system of a squirrel.
WcW, Sep 09 2011
  

       //watching a squirrel dart around// Time well spent.
rcarty, Sep 09 2011
  

       Last night i was thinking almost the same thing:   

       Bipedal-Robots need to balance all the time, but all of them are human-shaped. I'd guess that balancing would be much easier if there was a tail to the design.   

       Hmm ... it would look like Godzilla ... maybe we should finish the plans on the carbuchet first.... just in case.
fho, Sep 10 2011
  

       What [21Q] said.   

       // the brain ... of a squirrel //   

       Not exactly going to need a supercomputer for THAT job ... plenty of 133MHz Pentium I CPUs lying around unused ...
8th of 7, Sep 10 2011
  

       I feel strongly aprehensile about this idea.   

       // 133 Mhz //   

       the brain is about efficiency ... not speed
fho, Sep 12 2011
  

       I feel a giant mecha squirrel movie coming on.
RayfordSteele, Sep 12 2011
  

       I believe evolution would be insulted inasmuch as there are probably quite a few differences between a squirrels tail and a weight attached to a rod. Still, with refinements, I believe this is sound logic. I approve based on the assumption that mine will be a metallic spine like rod, with a large, finely polished, battle axe counter weight attached to the rear of my vehicle. It shall be seen swinging 'round violently as other motorist are awestruck at the lethality of the entire contraption, and unequivocally jelous of the squirrel like agility displayed by mine automobile. Capital idea!
KAGE, Sep 13 2011
  

       You could probably use the engine as the counterweight.
goldbb, Sep 13 2011
  

       The problem with a 'tail' is that it puts the weight well outside the vehicle's center of gravity. I'd be more inclined to experiment using water as a counterweight, with two mid-mounted ballast tanks linked by a high- speed pump (or maybe using compressed air... have to be a damn big compressor, though...)
Alterother, Sep 16 2011
  

       Sorry, but if you're that worried about safety, why not just stay on the highway? Oh, right—never mind.
Ander, Sep 19 2011
  

       The simple weight shift system described is not equivalent to the squirrel's tail. To stabilise a vehicle by simply shifting mass requires foresight - the mass must be shifted before the vehicle is tilted.   

       The desired effect could be achieved without the need for a heavy mass.   

       Observing a cat (not through gunsights - 8th) will reveal that they make high acceleration movements of a light tail to maintain balance.   

       Similarly, a light flywheel could be accelerated through an engine driven CVT, providing a torque reaction to keep the vehicle stable.   

       Still, this would not be much help to an off-road vehicle. If the vehicle has arrived at the point where it is about to tip over, it would normally lose traction on the unloaded side, slowing or stopping progress. A stabiliser will briefly enable the wheels to retain traction, allowing the vehicle to continue getting into trouble.   

       Tipping over is not a big problem. I put my Landrover on it's side several times. I jack it back up onto it's wheels an go on. It doesn't hurt.
Twizz, Sep 19 2011
  

       It depends what you tip ONTO. The worst thing to tip onto is nothing at all.
Alterother, Sep 19 2011
  

       Simply take the quite reasonable precaution of beginning your off road activity in Norfolk (the real Norfolk, in England), not on the edge of the Grand Canyon.
Twizz, Sep 20 2011
  

       New Halfbakery idea: Tails For Everything.
phundug, Jan 13 2012
  

       Are you aware that a 'group of scientists' will be publishing this idea in Nature soon? [linky]   

       \\ oh ... someone posted a link already :) \\
fho, Jan 14 2012
  
      
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