Gyro Monorail - Principles of Operation - Basic Idea

Basic Idea

The vehicle runs on a single conventional rail, so that without the balancing system it would topple over.

A spinning wheel is mounted in a gimbal frame whose axis of rotation (the precession axis) is perpendicular to the spin axis. The assembly is mounted on the vehicle chassis such that, at equilibrium, the spin axis, precession axis and vehicle roll axis are mutually perpendicular.

Forcing the gimbal to rotate causes the wheel to precess resulting in gyroscopic torques about the roll axis, so that the mechanism has the potential to right the vehicle when tilted from the vertical. The wheel shows a tendency to align its spin axis with the axis of rotation (the gimbal axis), and it is this action which rotates the entire vehicle about its roll axis.

Ideally, the mechanism applying control torques to the gimbal ought to be passive (an arrangement of springs, dampers and levers), but the fundamental nature of the problem indicates that this would be impossible. The equilibrium position is with the vehicle upright, so that any disturbance from this position reduces the height of the centre of gravity, lowering the potential energy of the system. Whatever returns the vehicle to equilibrium must be capable of restoring this potential energy, and hence cannot consist of passive elements alone. The system must contain an active servo of some kind.

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