Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Smartwheels  
  Special "wheels" that are actually sets of spokes that telescope to be as long as they need to be for a smooth ride.  

RadiKS Mark II Smartwheels. Every skateboarder on Earth would have these - if only they really existed. I've never heard of an idea like this being considered. You might think of it as a variable radius wheel, or a really sophisticated system of stilts.

But to Kouriers, this was professional equipment that got your messages through on time.

Smartwheels use sonar, laser range finding and millimeter wave radar to identify mufflers and other debris. Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes. Each spoke telescopes into five sections. On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom, swiveling on a ball joint. As the wheel rolls, the feet plant themselves one at a time, almost glomming into one continuous tire. If you surf over a bump, the spokes contract to roll over it. If you surf over a pothole, the rubber prongs probe its asphalt depths. Either way, the shock is thereby absorbed, no thuds, smacks, vibrations, or clunks will make their way into the plank or the Converse hightops with which you tread it. The ad was right - you cannot be a professional road surfer without smartwheels.
From Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam in 1992
Additional resources -

I want a car with wheels like these! When you think about it, wheels like this are very minimalist - which is a cyberpunk trait as well. The spoked wheel (for bicycles) was only invented in the last 150 years; now, we can do with out the round outer "wheel" part, and just use the spokes.

Here's another quote that gets the nature of smartwheels across:

The smartwheels of her skateboard, many, many spokes extending and retracting to fit the shape of the ground, take her across the lawn like a pat of butter skidding across hot Teflon.

For an earlier reference to a similar concept, see the flex-wheels from Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Snow Crash is the novel that put the word "cyberpunk" on the map*; it's a great ride. (* Okay, I had just finished rereading the novel, and it's true that I could - fairly - be accused of an excess of enthusiasm, since the term had been around since being coined in a story published in 1983. Yes, yes I've read lots of the other stories by Gibson, Sterling, Shirley and others, all of whose works are represented elsewhere on the site.) And yes, the pizza delivery scene that starts the book is the most remarkable such scene in all of world literature.

You might also be interested in a different sort of "smart wheels" - a real-world technology with potential uses in robotics:

CSOIS students, faculty, and staff at Utah State University have developed a key enabling technology concept called the 'smart wheel'. This is a self-contained wheel module with a steering motor, drive motor, and an innovative slip ring that allows data and power to pass from the chassis to the wheel without a wired connection. The slip ring allows infinite rotation in the steering degree of freedom.

See USU center for self-organizing intelligent systems.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 5 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Snow Crash
  More Ideas and Technology by Neal Stephenson
  Tech news articles related to Snow Crash
  Tech news articles related to works by Neal Stephenson

Smartwheels-related news articles:
  - Soft Robot Powered By Shape Memory Alloy Spokes
  - IMPASS Robot Has Snow Crash 'Smart Wheels'
  - Smart Wheels Are Artificially Intelligent
  - Segway's New RMP - Robotic Mobility Platform
  - Virtual Body-Swapping Tech
  - Dynamic Augmented Wheel System Eight-Part Wheel
  - IMPASS Robot 'Smart Wheel' Video
  - Is The OutRunner Robot Like Smartwheels?
  - Flexup Tire Design Good For Tumblebugs
  - Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda

Articles related to Transportation
Elon Musk's Traffic Tunnel Challenge Is Boring
HVSD, Kitty Hawk's Electric Plane
Skai Air Taxi Costs The Same As Uber
Asimov and Musk - Boring Company Tunnel vs. Street Race

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).

Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'

Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'

Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'

The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'

Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'

Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'

Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.