Pedal Dozer Project

Omni-Crawler Track Design

This innovative track design from Japan's Osaka University allow a vehicle to carry heavy weight and gain the advantage of multiple directions of travel.

The design uses interesting split track layout mounted on wheels they call omni-balls -- spherical balls split into two hemispheres -- as the drive mechanism for the track. It appears from the video that the drive shaft attaches to the front and rear of the track mechanism and this supports the weight of the vehicle and transmits power and control inputs to the track.

My take on this is that the shafts attached to the front omni-ball and the rear omni-ball are independently controlled. When they rotate in the same direction, the track engages in a caterpillar motion like expected. When their direction is opposite rotation, the track rolls sideways like a cylinder in a  "log-roll" motion. These two motions can be blended to get a combination effect.

Careful review of the pictures also suggests that each half of the track cleat is attached to a common bicycle chain. There is likely two chains, one for each side of the track, to provide structural connectivity and allowing an open channel that doesn't interfere with the shaft access to the axis of the omni-balls.

I like the idea of multi-directional control of movement, and the claim that this is much more efficient than maneuvering a vehicle with a traditional track design. Efficiency and mobility are strong pluses to any drive system. And, that it retains low ground pressure characteristics and traction potential is good, too. And, lastly, if you're looking for some wow-factor bling to your project, this design also delivers on that front.



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