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TOPICS OF THE TIMES: Remarks on Gyroscope Automobiles

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

TOPICS OF THE TIMES: Remarks on Gyroscope Automobiles

The New York Times
April 30, 1914

That a two-wheel vehicle can be "stabilized," as the aviators say, by means of the gyroscope has long been known and not infrequently proved.  Yet the large and confident promises of a complete change in land transportation by means of this ingenious and interesting device are strangely slow of fulfillment, particularly as they are all based on sound science, and the utilities of the gyroscope, though so attractive to the theorists, obstinately remain few and not very important.

The latest attempt to use the whirling disk as an automatic preserver of balance is reported from London.  There a Dr. Schidowsky has made a gyroscopic motor car that on public trial went along on two wheels in tandem as steadily as other cars go on four.  The stabilization was really effected, but one notices that the new machine costs more to make than the most expensive of ordinary automobiles, that it was extremely heavy, and that it couldn't be run over four miles an hour.

These are not fatal, or even discouraging, defects in a new car, built for experimental purposes, and likely enough they can all be remedied.  It is not obvious, however, that a two-wheeled automobile would have many or important superiorities over one with the orthodox four wheels, and the few superiorities that can be imagined seem hardly worth getting at the cost of an added complication to a machine already terribly complex, and with an incidental diversion of power from the running gear to the gyroscope.  The opportunities for accidents, too, would apparently be increased for the gyroscopic car, and the present automobiles give us quite enough of those to meet all reasonable demands.

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