Gilad Woolf, an Israeli farmer, had a problem.
He had broken his leg . . . but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the bumpy ride he often had to endure while using a wheelchair until his leg could heal. And so — discomfort and inconvenience being the mother of reinvention — Woolf came up with an idea for a kind of wheel that could soak up the impacts of uneven terrain.
Developed over the last three years by the startup Tel Aviv firm SoftWheel, the hub of this special wheel shrinks or expands as needed to smooth out the ride. The wheel absorbs most of a shock instead of transmitting it to the vehicle and the person driving it.
“Very quickly we understood it’s not just about putting the suspension inside the wheel,” SoftWheel CEO Daniel Barel told The Jerusalem Post. “The beauty of our technology is not only that it’s an integral part of the wheel, it’s selective and symmetric. That’s the game-changer.” (See video of a Softwheel wheelchair on steps.)
The company will first create its wheels for wheelchairs, the bikes and aircraft landing gear. After several more years of work, SoftWheel expects that the technology can be applied to cars.
Thus, five or six thousand years after somebody came up with the wheel, we’ve got a smart and flexible solution for the problem of stairways, potholes and other bumps in the road.
Very cool. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.