by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/07/16 11:31 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2011/07/16/10187196.aspx
The title of this blog certainly suggests one theoretical etymology for the word Tweel, though it is, by being largely a product of my own random thoughts without any supporting research, unlikely to be true.
Tweels do have a source, though, Michelin!
You can read about them on Wikipedia, here:
The Tweel (a portmanteau of tire and wheel) is an experimental tire design developed by the French tire company Michelin. The tire uses no air, and therefore cannot burst or become flat. Instead, the Tweel's hub connects to flexible polyurethane spokes which are used to support an outer rim and assume the shock-absorbing role of a traditional tire's pneumatic properties.
They even have some public domain art:
I had a colleague at work ask me if I was going to get tweels put on my iBot, especially given that the iBot was originally introduced with tweels as its wheels.
He even pointed me to a video from Michelin from a few years back that mentions the iBot and shows one riding on Tweels:
This is, I will admit, pretty cool.
After his inquiry, I did ask one of the few remaining folks manning the technical support desk for my iBot at Independence Technology and after looking into a bit he said that although they were initially used, there were complaints about noise from the tire and also heat that it would generate -- both present even at the lower speeds of an iBot relative to a car.
It is unknown if Michelin is still working on this project, but even if they were it is unlikely they would have anything before January 2013 when Independence Technology shuts down, and even if they did it is highly unlikely Independence Technology would offer a new option for tire replacement from the one they have now.
Those who would dare to dream of a tweet about me, the non-tween riding on two Tweels, will likely have to keep dreaming. I do have plans to make some changed to the iBot after the warranty expires (I'll write about those more fully after said expiration), buying tweels from Michelin is not currently one of those changes....
John Cowan on 16 Jul 2011 11:54 AM:
Tweel was the name of the alien in Stanley Weinbaum's classic story "A Martian Odyssey" (1934), or rather the name the human gives him from a sound or word that he makes. The story is readily available online, and is the first known science-fiction story to represent aliens as *alien*, with their own points of view and ways of thought.
Devin on 18 Jul 2011 12:19 PM:
I hadn't heard that Independence Technology was closing down. That sucks. What are your options when the time comes to completely replace the iBot?
Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Jul 2011 12:45 PM:
Well, the 'end of support" date is not the "end of the iBot being functional" date. So we'll see what happens next as they unfold the plan....
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