Finnish startup '18 Wheels' builds world's first eco-friendly all-terrain vehicle

It has exactly 18 wheels and will be available for a test drive by October this year.
Ameya Paleja
The eco-friendly all terrain vehicle from 18 Wheels
The eco-friendly all terrain vehicle from 18 Wheels

18 Wheels 

Finnish startup 18 Wheels has unveiled the world's first environment-friendly all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that is not just powered by an all-electric motor but also ensures that it does not leave any prints on the ground it covers.

If you have been intrigued by the nomenclature of the company more than the underlying technology or idea behind the ATV, then you are definitely not the first. The company does not have a long history and does not really spend any time explaining why it is named so.

This is exactly where you miss the predictability of serial entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, where a company is simply named X or some derivative of the letter. One can attribute the name to some unexplained infatuation with the letter and move on.

With 18 Wheels, however, the company is being very literal about its first product's number of wheels. Strangely though, the prototype itself does not have a placeholder name or model number.

With that out of the way, let's get to the second question.

What is an eco-friendly ATV?

On its website, 18 Wheels states that making ATVs sustainable is one of the pillars the company is based on. To do so, it has not just put an electric drive on the vehicle but has also built it entirely using recyclable materials.

To ensure that the vehicle does not leave any footprint, even in the literal sense, 18 Wheels has put an independent suspension on each of the 18 wheels that move the ATV around.

The movement of the ATV is reminiscent of a millipede, with the only difference being the wheels being under the body and always trailing backward. We haven't seen a millipede on tiny wheels yet, so we can't confirm if the millipede would also move in a similar fashion.

The prototype is from last year – but 18 Wheels has worked on the concept further and used a lot of mathematical modeling to take the idea further. The prototype looks much like a millipede on wheels.

What can the ATV do?

All the talk about computer modeling and whether the ATV is heavily inspired by the millipede is moot if we do not know what it is capable of. Currently, the startup claims that its prototype can overcome obstacles over seven inches (200 mm) without impacting its speed.

It can move over different types of terrain, such as soil and rocks, and even function as a small boat if the rider were to come across a pool of water. It will definitely be interesting to see what the ATV can do with even bigger obstacles. The next iteration is expected in October this year.

The company is still working on the ATV and the product is likely to improve in the future. But one cannot help but wonder if the team is working on solving a problem that does not exist.

How many ATV riders do you know that want to ensure they do not leave a trail behind them or are concerned about the fuel-guzzling nature of their rides?