Tilmann Schlootz and Oliver Keller designed the Hyanide. Schlootz, 26, is a student of product design and machine engineering. He has won several other international design awards and is known for his innovative motorcycle designs. Keller is a 24-year-old product design specialist schooled at HFG Offenbach. They created the Hyanide for the Michelin Challenge Design, held in January 2006 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Each year, Michelin encourages design students to explore a regional theme. This year's theme was California. Organizers also directed designers to incorporate an alternative powertrain and "consider the effect of that powertrain on tire size and appearance and the role electronic technologies could play in tire systems" [ref].
While the Hyanide is certainly innovative, it is not the first personal-treaded vehicle ever designed. In 1980, a Finnish company produced the Finncat, essentially a snowmobile without skis. Instead of skis, the Finncat featured a track made from two long plastic segments joined end-to-end. Steering bars controlled pivoting guide wheels, allowing the tread to flex with turns. This configuration probably would have allowed it to work on more than just snowy terrain, but moving on or through snow was its primary job.
The Mattracks Company sells conversion kits that allow you to configure virtually any vehicle with treads instead of tires. You attach four triangular tread devices in place of the tires, and a series of gears transforms the rotation of the wheels into tread movement, geared down for added torque. Their Litefoot kits for converting ATVs to treaded vehicles range from $5,000 to $7,000.
Schlootz and Keller also designed another single-tread all-terrain vehicle, the Baal. While the Hyanide is meant to be a daily workhorse, the Baal is race-ready, with a broad handlebar for precision steering and a lighter overall weight than the Hyanide. Drivers could race it in long-distance off-road races such as the Dakar or Baja.
Currently, the Hyanide only exists as a one-fifth scale model, and Schlootz and Keller don't have any plans to put it into production. However, several manufacturers have expressed interest in the concept, so we could see the Hyanide's "flexible tread" technology showing up in production models in the near future.
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