London, Ontario-based inventor William Liddiard is gaining attention for creating a functional wheel-tire concept that can roll sideways upon itself, thus offering unprecedented maneuverability–his creative concept could to some degree actually ‘re-invent the wheel.’

“Originally, the idea came to me as I was watching someone having difficulty backing up a utility trailer,” said Liddiard. “Thus, the sideways wheel was born.”

This novel wheel concept can function as a normal wheel-tire combination would, but also has the added benefit of rolling sideways upon itself, as if the tire takes the form of a conveyor belt.

“Essentially, the rim is mechanical, and the tires roll inward upon themselves,” explains Liddiard.

The inner, mechanical wheel is powered by electric motors, using electricity from the vehicle’s battery. Sideways motion is controlled from inside the vehicle by a switch–though further development of the concept could see joystick control, thus allowing seamless variation of the vehicle’s sideways motion.

Many applications could make use of these wheels, given the added maneuverability they can offer–for instance, delivery trucks and city buses could better navigate traffic and easily snug to the curb.

According to the inventor, they are a stand-alone, bolt-on application that allows anything with a wheel to move in all directions.

These side-rolling wheels could be sized “anywhere from six inches to 40 inches and larger”–meaning the Liddiard wheel could potentially find use in heavy industry, for example, installed on construction equipment such as front-end loaders or dump trucks to increase maneuverability.

When asked how fast the wheels could roll sideways upon themselves, Liddiard said that it all boils down to gear ratios.

“Sideways speed can be much faster by changing the gearing ratio. For my prototype setup I bought motors that were slow. Face-palm,” he says. “I had to go with them anyways as this is proof-of-concept only. Finished products would be much faster.”

In terms of cost, the jury is out, but Liddiard is confident that if his invention takes off, these wheels could be affordable.

“I designed them to be amazingly simple. With mass production I estimate their price would be comparable to traditional wheel and rim packages.”

Is there any point in re-inventing the wheel? Investors, big-business and consumers will no-doubt answer that question in due time.

(Video from William Liddiard via YouTube)