Da Vinci’s car from the 15th century – The Emergency Lane

Da Vinci’s car from the 15th century – The Emergency Lane

The car as we know it today is an idea from the 19th century? Wrong! In 1478, artist cum inventor Leonardo da Vinci already sketched a self-driving vehicle. That ‘car’ had a special mechanism, but it only really came to life much later.

While the undersigned at the age of 25 is typing this article about Da Vinci’s car, while he was only a year older, Da Vinci was already drawing out his idea for a self-driving vehicle. The difference must be there. Leonardo da Vinci was in fact a little bit of everything: engineer, artist, inventor, chemist, sculptor, composer; you name it. In doing so, he embodied the ideal of the ‘homo universalis’ from the Renaissance: a person who is developed in all skills and in all areas.

Da Vinci was ahead of his time, at least in his mind and on paper. For example, he sketched the first flying machines long before the Wright brothers made their first flight. The car also flowed from his pen early on, or at least a machine that resembles it. It is said that the vehicle was not intended to transport people, but as an accessory for large stage performances that were held at the time for and by the elite. In that case, the vehicle could, for example, be used to move large pieces of scenery quickly and easily.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Da Vinci’s drawing of his ‘car’.

The drawing shows a square construction with three wheels. Inside that structure are gears, which form the mechanism that moves the car. Steering is done with a kind of rudder with an extra smaller wheel, bringing the total number of wheels to four. Albeit in a different layout than is customary today. Da Vinci apparently didn’t think it was worth fully fleshing out the car in his sketch. He placed particular emphasis on the mechanics.

Under your own power

That mechanism is therefore quite special. It consists of two leaf springs that are loaded by a pair of pliers. The energy that is thus stored in the leaf springs is transferred to the wheels by a complex system of gears. With the latter, Da Vinci has in fact already put something on paper that resembles the modern differential. As far as we know, Da Vinci never worked out the concept himself in practice, as is the case with many of his sketches – for example of flying machines.

It is not known whether his design would have actually functioned in the time in which it was drawn. Several replicas of Da Vinci’s vehicle have since been built that do function, as can be seen in the video below. The disadvantage of the suspension system is of course that it has to be wound up continuously. This means that the vehicle can only cover short distances under its own power.

Leonardo Da Vinci

The mechanics of the vehicle.

In fact, the principle of Da Vinci’s vehicle can be compared to toy cars that you first pull backwards and then shoot away when you let go. Although the vehicle clearly has its limitations and only came to life on paper, it does say something about the progressiveness of Da Vinci that about 400 years before the idea of ​​the car came about, he was already thinking about vehicles that could be powered on their own. move without having to be pulled or pushed.

– Thanks for information from Autoweek.nl

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