The mecanum drive was invented by Bengt Ilon in 1973, when he used to be an engineer employed in a Swedish company ‘Mecanum AB’. A mecanum wheel is typically an omni-wheel that has its rollers slanted at a 45° angle to the plane of the wheel and a 45° to the axis of rotation of the wheel. An omni wheel is a multi-directional wheel that has rollers on its sides such that it can slides sideways and well as rotate to move forward and backwards. Since the rotation of one wheel causes the wheel to move diagonally 45° to the axis of the rollers’ motion.Thus, Bengt Ilon, used this characteristic of the mecanum wheel that he had invented, to enable a vehicle utilising a 4-motor drive and 2 types of mecanum wheel, one normal, the other, inverted, that has the roller facing up to either line up in a ‘X’ or a ‘◊’ shape to move in any given direction on the horizontal axis’, creating the Mecanum Drive.The mecanum drive, with different combinations of wheel rotation, can create motion even diagonally and at awkward angles .
The US Navy then bought the patent from Ilon in the 1980s in Panama City, and they utilised it on vehicles that moves cargo and objects around ships, docks and ports.This enabled them to move all those kinds of heavy and bulky objects that are hard to maneuver in tight spots.In 1997 several companies, including Airtrax Incorporated, bought the rights to the technology, along with onld drawing of how the motors and controllers worked from the US Navy for $2,500. Airtrax Inc then came up with an omni-directional forklift that could maneuver and lift objects in tight spots and used them in aircraft carriers.The Usefulness of the Mecanum drive aking the mecanum drive one of the most useful drives around the world, which then copied the idea to produce mecanum drivetrains of their own, creating variants of the mecanum drive such as Kiwi drives and Holonomic drives Make the mecanum drive one of the most useful drives around the world, which then copied the idea to produce mecanum drivetrains of their own, creating variants of the mecanum drive such as Kiwi drives and Holonomic drives. (Wikipedia(2013, July 16). Mecanum Wheel. Retrived from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecanum_wheel )