Tristin Hopper
Friday, Jul. 1, 2016

The age of parallel parking may soon be over thanks to a literal reinvention of the wheel by Canadian man William Liddiard.

“True all-way drive for anything with wheels,” Liddiard says in an online writeup for his successful prototype of “omni-directional” wheels, a specialized rim and tire that can allow any car the ability to move sideways.

The tire is rounded like a donut and sits within a specialized roller-equipped rim that can move the tire horizontally. The result is a wheel that can allow any car to “crab” side to side.

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Derek Ruttan/Postmedia NetworkWilliam Liddiard with his omnidirectional wheel.

“This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels,” wrote Liddiard. ‘Now you can drive in all directions, and turn on the spot, when needed.”

The London, Ont., inventor exhibited the technology in a YouTube video that has since captured the attention of auto aficionados the world over, garnering more than 1.1 million views.

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Entitled “you’ve never seen a car do this…,” the three minute video shows a Toyota Echo sliding around an Ontario driveway as if on a block of ice.

One source described the car as “moonwalking” across the pavement.

The wheels are merely a “proof of concept” prototype, but Liddiard asserts that his design would allow them to be made as durable and safe as standard automotive wheels.

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The omni-directional wheel is not a new invention, but it has typically been used only in wheelchairs, robotics and other small-scale applications. Honda Motor Co. did debut an omni-directional wheel at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, but it was as part of a small, Segway-style personal mobility device.

“My wheel can hold ten times more than the other (wheels), while maintaining speed,” Liddiard told Postmedia in an interview earlier this year.

The inventor is currently seeking to sell the technology to a major tire or automotive company.

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