While we may all be familiar with the unicycle, a single-wheeled vehicle that was invented as a spin-off of the Penny Farthing bicycle back during the eighteenth century, there has yet to be another one-wheeled vehicle in working existence. However, that doesn’t mean that inventors didn’t try, as the 1930s saw the Dynasphere, a one-wheeled vehicle that was set to revolutionize the automobile industry.
Who Made It & Why?
The Dynasphere was invented by Dr. J.H Purves in hopes of revolutionizing modern transportation, calling his invention the spherical locomotion. It was considered a remarkable invention at the time and had two iterations made via prototypes. The larger of the two Dynaspheres was meant to have a gasoline motor that could run 2.5-horsepower, while the other was meant to be run on electricity. The Dynasphere had a large enough interior for at least two people to sit, presumably the driver and one passenger. Dr. J.H. Purves demonstrated how the prototypes worked on a beach in Weston and can be seen in the following video, while an issue of Modern Mechanics explained how it worked in an interview with Dr. J.H. Purves.
According to Modern Mechanics, the Dynasphere worked by having a track that ran completely around the wheel on the inside. The motor was fastened to the track so that the track would be pulled towards it when the engine was started. This is what allowed the wheel to move forward.
How Did It Not Tip?
The gravity of the apparatus was low enough to the ground to help prevent it from tipping unnecessarily. Then combine the weight of the driver and the fastened motor and the Dynasphere would stay parallel and upright.
How Did You See with the Lattice?
Apparently, since the wheel could reach up to 25 miles per hour, the latticework would simply disappear as if it was not there due to how quickly the wheel would be in motion. The driver would end up with a clear view of the road as the latticework would blend seamlessly away.
How Come It Did Not Catch On?
While there isn’t really any particular reason as to why the one-wheeled wonder didn’t catch on, it wasn’t for a lack of trying on Dr. J.H. Purves’s part. Not only did he design two prototypes of the Dynasphere, but he also developed a version of it to hold more passengers in 1935 – a one-wheeled bus if you will. It contained a stabilizing fin, roller bearings, and side wheels that were controlled by steering. Unfortunately, it was a lot more difficult to steer and brake.