Swedish inventor, Bengt Ilon, invented and patented Mecanum wheel design in 1973, when he was an engineer with the Swedish company Mecanum AB. These wheels can move a vehicle in any direction.
Mecanum wheel is based on the principle of a central wheel with a number of rollers placed at an angle around the periphery of the wheel.
The angled peripheral roller translates a portion of the force in the rotational direction of the wheel to force normal to the wheel directional. Depending on each individual wheel direction and speed, the resulting combination of all these forces produces a total force vector in any desired direction thus allowing the platform to move freely in direction of resulting force vector, without changing the direction of the wheel.
The US Navy bought the patent from the Ilon. The US Navy has used it for transporting items around ships. In 1997, Airtrax Incorporated and several other companies each paid the US Navy $2,500 for rights to the technology, including old drawings of how the motors and controllers worked, to build an omnidirectional forklift truck that could maneuver in tight spaces such as the deck of an aircraft carrier. These vehicles are now in production.
Publication number: US3876255 A
Patent Title: Wheels for a course stable selfpropelling vehicle movable in any desired direction on the ground or some other base
Publication type: Grant
Publication date: 8 Apr 1975
Filing date: 13 Nov 1972
Priority date: 13 Nov 1972
Also published as: DE2354404A1, DE2354404C2, DE2366511A1
Inventors: Bengt Erland Ilon
Original Assignee: Ilon B E