what is gravity vehicle
A gravity vehicle is a car that is solely powered by the gravitational potential energy it has when it is placed on a ramp. Many science and engineering competitions, such as Science Olympiad, hold gravity vehicle as an event to learn physics concepts.
In this post, we will discuss how you can optimize the wheels of your Science Olympiad Gravity Vehicle.
optimizing your wheels
What makes a good wheel?
When understanding what makes exceptional wheels for any gravity vehicle, or even actual cars for that matter, there are many aspects to analyze.
In gravity vehicle, you must value both the accuracy and speed of your car. And the best way to make your car faster and more accurate, you want your wheels to sufficiently stabilize your vehicle while also being as light as possible.
Below, we will discuss different concepts centered around wheels that will affect your gravity vehicle.
Rotational inertia is the amount of energy or force that it takes to change the rotational velocity of an object. In simple terms, rotational inertia is the amount of energy needed to rotate an object.
To make your car more efficient and produce better results, you want to reduce the amount of rotational inertia that your wheels have, which will decrease the amount of energy that your vehicle needs to spend on rotating its wheels.
Weight is a large contributing factor to the rotational inertia of your wheels. As we have discussed in previous posts, the more your vehicle weighs, the more energy is required to move that vehicle.
This same principle applies to wheels in terms of rotational inertia. The more your wheels weigh, the more rotational inertia they will have. Thus, reducing the weight of your wheels is will improve your vehicle.
Wheel diameter can be addressed in two ways:
- You can increase the dimeter of your wheels. This will allow you to travel a farther distance per rotation of your wheel, allowing you to making your car thinner and, sometimes, allow your vehicle to be lighter.
- You can decrease the diameter of your wheels. This will allow you to travel at a faster speed at the cost of distance. This will also force you to make you wider, improving your vehicle’s stability.
Thickness & Grip
The thickness and grip of your car should not be a high priority on your to do list of wheel improvements, but it can be an area to consider if you notice that your car is not traveling straight.
Increasing the thickness and grip of your gravity vehicle wheels will allow the contact area between the wheel base and the floor to increase and reduce and slippage between them, allowing you improve the stability of your car, in turn, making your car travel straighter.