Square wheel

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An animation of a square wheel rolling smoothly over inverted catenaries.
A prototype square wheeled car with modified track at Thinktank Science Garden.

A square wheel is a wheel that, instead of being circular, has the shape of a square. While literal square wheels exist, a more common use is as an idiom meaning stereotypically bad or naive engineering (see reinventing the wheel).

A square wheel can roll smoothly if the ground consists of evenly shaped inverted catenaries of the right size and curvature.[1][2][3]

A different type of square-wheeled vehicle was invented in 2006 by Jason Winckler of Global Composites, Inc. in the United States. This has square wheels, linked together and offset by 22.5°, rolling on a flat surface. The prototype appears ungainly, but the inventor proposes that the system may be useful in microscopic-sized machines (MEMS).[4] In 1997 Macalester College mathematics professor Stan Wagon constructed the first prototype of a catenary tricycle. An improved model made out of modern materials was built when the original vehicle wore out in April, 2004.[5]

In 2012, MythBusters experimented with modifying vehicles with square tires, determining that, with speed, a truck fitted with square wheels can deliver a relatively smooth ride.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peterson, Ivars (4 April 2004), "Riding on Square Wheels", Science News, vol. 165, no. 14, archived from the original on July 2, 2008, retrieved 2009-05-03
  2. ^ A Catenary Road and Square Wheels, New Trier High School, Winnetka, Illinois, archived from the original on September 30, 2006, retrieved 2009-05-03
  3. ^ Non-Circular Wheels, vol. Physics and Astronomy Lecture Demonstrations, University of Iowa, retrieved 2009-05-03
  4. ^ Derby, Stephen J.; Anderson, Kurt; Winckler, Steven; Winckler, Jason (2006). "Motion Characteristics of a Square Wheel Car". Volume 2: 30th Annual Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B. Vol. 2006. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: ASME. pp. 811–816. doi:10.1115/DETC2006-99140. ISBN 9780791842560.
  5. ^ Wagon, Stan. "Untitled". Retrieved 19 May 2010.