It’ll make the Hummer’s Crab Walk look like child’s play.
Ever since we saw the crab walk on the GMC Hummer EV, we’ve been captivated. But this is not a feature that will be exclusive to GMC. Tesla says that its Cybertruck will have similar tech, and the electric Chevy Silverado will gain it too. Rivian has gone a slightly different route with its feature called the ‘Tank Turn’, although this has been tricky to perfect. But while all these electric trucks have slightly different ways of achieving similar results, it seems that Toyota has been quietly working on its own tech that will decimate both Crab Walk and Tank Turn and revolutionize mobility as we know it.
CarBuzz discovered patent documents filed with the USPTO for a feature that allows for independent steering of each wheel by “about 90 degrees or larger angles.”
This will allow a vehicle to access two unique wheel position configurations. The first will allow all four wheels to be turned in a corresponding direction, allowing the vehicle to travel “straight in a direction intersecting the front-rear direction,” or to put it simply, allowing the car to strafe sideways or at an angle.
The second position would allow the car to “rotate around a verticle axis passing through a central portion of the vehicle body.” That’s patent-speak for performing on-the-spot turns. It would do so by turning each wheel in the opposite direction to the adjacent wheel as shown in the diagrams from the patent filing.
The patent proposes that the wheels will even extend out from the body during such maneuvers so that each wheel can be independently monitored. With Toyota’s excellence in off-roading ability already the stuff of legend, we expect that the Japanese automaker could very well have created an innovation that outperforms anything that these EV manufacturers have to offer.
This patent is almost certainly meant for an electric vehicle rather than one powered by internal combustion.
With the ability to place individual motors on each wheel, an EV would make the most sense for a four-wheel independent steering system. But what would it go on? Just a couple of months ago, Toyota revealed its plans for an electric truck, and if it’s to be anything near as good as the recently revealed Toyota Tundra appears to be, then we could be in for an off-roading overachiever. Alternatively, this sort of tech could be applied to a small city car to make parking and navigating tight spaces a cinch.
As for when we can expect this to debut on a production Toyota, we have no idea, but the patent gives us hope that the wait won’t be too long. While the patent was only approved on September 21, 2021, the application was filed in August of 2019. So there’s a good chance that Toyota is already quite far down the road of development.