Hooniverse Asks- Self-Balancing Cars- Bygone Insanity, or Unfulfilled Dream?

What is the greatest promise of the future that has so far gone unfulfilled? Yep, that’s right, self zipping trousers. They keep promising them year after year, and yet here we are today with no assurance that our flies might be down at any time.
The other tantalizing future dream that also so far still remains frustratingly out of reach is the gyroscopically-stabilized two-wheel car. Imagine if your will a car that leans into corners like a motorcycle, and yet affords all the comforts and convenience -as well as the perception of affluence – provided by a car. Science has been working on this amazing blending of bike and car for decades, but sadly, the formula for success has so far proven elusive.
There have been attempts, cars like the pre-war Montrace Cabriolet, the Alex Tremulis-designed Gyro-X of 1967, and the present-day Ecomobile Motorcycle. All of these however require awkward outriggers for low-speed maneuvers, and that’s something I’d like to avoid. The benefits of a pure gyro car are many, including amazing handling, greater parking ease, and the coolness factor of driving a gyroscope car. Do you think we’ll ever see such an amazing beast in our lifetimes? If not, what other promises of the past would you like to see made real?
Image: Hemmings

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  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    IIRC, Alex's son has been involved in the restoration of the Gyro-X.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    Don't really see a need for it. You won't even save on tire expenses if the vehicle has the same requirements like a car anyway.
    Hover cars, as shown by Rover1 the other day, are more tempting though.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      My mind immediately went to hover cars, too. They are both impractical, complex ways of allowing a vehicle to easily traverse terrain while remaining stable. Unfortunately, there is already a centuries-old solution that is much simpler, more precise, and much more efficient in nearly every way: the traditional arrangement of four wheels.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Reminds me of the Top Gear train of thought when they (mis-) tested the Nissan Leaf: Would be nice with quicker charges. Would be nice to charge everywhere. Maybe something liquid? Buy a petrol car instead!
        The reality of big visions is often that small, incremental change is the more successful approach. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless you want to out-tech physics and build a two-wheeled car.

  3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    These are an engineering curiosity at best. I have a "self-balancing" vehicle I take to work occasionally, my bicycle. Very efficient for fuel, but the tires only last around 4,000 miles.

    1. mallthus Avatar

      It could be argued that the bicycle is very inefficient for fuel. Limited carrying capacity and food for humans is more costly to produce than petrol.

      1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
        PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

        True. Even when I have a trailer that can pull up to 100 pounds (I have pulled 75-80 in it) add my 200 pounds, that's 300 pounds on 700 calories per hour. So around .02 gallons of gasoline to go 15 miles. But 700 calories of food cost roughly the cost of one gallon of fuel. So in terms of fuel cost per mile, cars are cheaper, but in fuel usage, of comparable kcal, well, the bike uses 100 times less fuel equivalent.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Additional complexity with little, if any, real-world benefit? WHY ARE WE NOT FUNDING THIS???
    Do you really see this as the way of the future? They will always be a novelty. Like flying cars, every decade or so some enterprising inventor will revisit the idea, extolling its imaginary benefits to a rightfully skeptical populace, and his prototype will wind up a footnote in automotive history books, and at best wind up in a museum somewhere.

  5. Manic_King Avatar

    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/green.autoblog.com/media/2006/08/carver.jpg"&gt;
    I think Carver is good enough, needs to be much cheaper though. Has Gyro too, IIRC.

    1. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

      They need to make this for the price of an Elio.

    2. Vairship Avatar

      Wicked stance, dude! 😉

  6. crank_case Avatar

    Something like the Gyro-X, no, but an affordable, gyro version of the ecomobile or its descendant the monotracer could be a great low emissions, high fuel efficiency vehicle. The key advantage would be low frontal area = great aerodynamics.
    <img src="https://peraves.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/astramedia-monotracer_3.jpg&quot; width="600">

  7. OA5599 Avatar

    If a restaurant dude can integrate gyros into a salad and sell the final product for about ten bucks, how hard can it be to put gyros on a car?

    1. 66Mustanger Avatar

      I don't know. It's all Greek to me.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        Stop, you're making me hungry!

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      There are certain stability caveats nonetheless.
      <img src="http://www.abendblatt.de/img/magazin/crop123352535/3318726561-ci3x2l-w620/Dinner-for-one-oder-Der-90.jpg&quot; width="600">

      1. Manic_King Avatar

        Ha, that legendary new year's eve TV, must see in Germany: http://www.thelocal.de/20131231/16465

    3. Vairship Avatar

      But if you get it wrong, you might end up being an organ doner!

  8. Drzhivago138 Avatar

    Just when you thought cars couldn't get any more phallic..

  9. Rover_1 Avatar

    A vehicle like this is already in production, but with the two wheels mounted transversely rather than longitudinally. GM (among others) have shown scaled up versions. The main advantage appears to be shortness, perhaps a more useful attribute in a city car than narrowness and if you need gyros anyway, does this make more sense?
    <img src="https://co2calculator.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/segway.jpg&quot; width="300">
    <img src="http://www.mizozo.com/images/item_images/5000/4498_gallery.jpg&quot; width="500">
    <img src="http://projectstir.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/EN-V.jpg&quot; width="500">
    <img src="http://www.ecofriend.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/gm-en-v_2_tgobP_69.jpg&quot; width="500">