Crabwalking, or the ability of a vehicle to move sideways, has several potential benefits in specific situations, particularly for off-road and specialized vehicles.
The name, crabwalking, comes from the walking pattern of crabs. I grew up in an environment where crabs were present and I got to see them walk firsthand. Crabs walk sideways. And that is exactly where the name, crabwalk, comes from. The technology that makes this possible in four-wheel vehicles is quite new and only a select few vehicles have it yet.
How are cars able to crabwalk?
The ability of a car to crabwalk, or move diagonally, is made possible through advanced drivetrain and wheel control systems that allow the vehicle to point all four tyres in the same direction at the same time. Here’s how it typically works:
Independent Wheel Control: Vehicles capable of crabwalking have independently controlled wheels. This means that each wheel can be moved or rotated separately from the others. These vehicles often have electric drivetrains that allow precise control of each wheel.
Control Software: Sophisticated control software manages the individual movement of the wheels. This software coordinates the actions of the wheels to achieve diagonal movement. It can also adjust the speed and direction of each wheel to execute crabwalking or any other desired maneuver.
Diagonal Wheel Movement: To crabwalk, the software instructs the wheels to move in opposite directions on one side of the vehicle and the same directions on the other side. For example, the front left wheel might move forward, while the rear left wheel moves backward, and both right-side wheels move in the same direction. This diagonal movement results in the vehicle moving sideways.
Precise Control: The ability to adjust the speed and direction of each wheel independently allows for precise control, making it possible to navigate tight spaces, perform parallel parking, and execute crabwalking smoothly.
Sensors and Feedback: Vehicles with crabwalking capabilities often use a variety of sensors, including cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radar, to detect the vehicle’s surroundings. These sensors provide feedback to the control system, allowing it to adjust the wheel movements in real-time to avoid obstacles and ensure safety.
Advanced Drivetrain: Electric vehicles (EVs) are particularly well-suited for crabwalking due to their electric motors and drivetrains. Electric motors provide immediate and precise control of wheel movement, making crabwalking easier to implement.
What are the advantages of crabwalking?
The next question that comes to mind is, what are the advantages of crabwalking? Right? There are a few. Let’s dig through them.
Maneuverability: Crabwalking allows a vehicle to navigate through tight spaces and obstacles with greater ease. This can be particularly useful in off-road environments where traditional forward or backward movement is hindered.
Obstacle Clearance: Crabwalking enables a vehicle to sidestep obstacles, debris, or uneven terrain without the need for complicated turning or reversing maneuvers.
Precise Positioning: Crabwalking is useful for precise positioning of a vehicle, which can be essential in situations such as loading and unloading cargo, aligning with specific docking stations, or positioning construction equipment.
Parallel Parking: For regular road vehicles, the ability to crabwalk can make parallel parking in tight spaces more manageable, reducing the likelihood of bumps and scrapes.
Safety: In emergency situations, crabwalking can help a vehicle avoid collisions or navigate around hazards more effectively.
Tire Preservation: Crabwalking can reduce the wear and tear on vehicle tires since they don’t need to pivot or slide as often during tight turns.
Off-Roading: Off-road vehicles can benefit from crabwalking in challenging terrains, helping them overcome steep slopes, rocks, or uneven ground.
Construction and Agriculture: Crabwalking is valuable for construction and agricultural vehicles that require precise and controlled movements when working around structures or crops.
Military and Defense: Military vehicles with crabwalking capabilities can enhance their tactical advantages by providing lateral movement to avoid threats and obstacles while maintaining a forward-facing posture.
Efficiency: In certain industrial applications, crabwalking can optimize workflow efficiency and reduce the time and effort required for positioning and maneuvering.
What vehicles currently can crabwalk?
The Hummer EV, produced by General Motors, was introduced with a “CrabWalk Mode” as one of its features, allowing it to move diagonally. This was the first consumer vehicle with the feature. Long before then, though, some non-consumer vehicles have had the feature. These vehicles were used for military, recreational, and industrial purposes. Hyundai Motors have also demonstrated the feature in a concept consumer car.