Article from 5/27/2021

Drive unit with Mecanum wheel

This concept as a finished drive unit with Mecanum wheel offers the AGV industry completely new possibilities. The Mecanum wheel with integrated cycloid precision gearbox from the Japanese gearbox manufacturer Nabtesco.

A conventional transport system such as forklift trucks or pallet trucks always requires sufficient space for free movement. This is now finally history with the Mecanum wheel. Move your transport device freely in all imaginable directions. More on this in the following article.

Basic information about the Mecanum concept


The Mecanum wheel was invented in 1972 by an engineer of the Swedish company Mecanum AB named Bengot Ilon. In contrast to the all-round wheel, the rollers are at an angle to the main axis and thus allow movements in a wide variety of directions depending on the drive of the wheels. The patent was first purchased by the U.S. Navy and became available to commercial companies in 1997. Unlike most wheels, the Mecanum wheel does not have a closed tread.

Functional principle

The Mecanum wheel allows a vehicle to move in any direction. This is possible with the aid of this finished drive unit both from a standing position and from movement.

The control of the direction of rotation and speed of the four Mecanum wheels enables the driverless transport system to move freely in all directions. The relationship between the direction of wheel rotation and the direction of travel is shown in the figure on the left. The figures show the vehicle status when viewed from above.

Since the Mecanum wheel does not have to rotate with an integrated precision gear, the user has a much larger installation space for control, batteries or cables. This allows a more efficient use of the interior.

For the AGV drives, an existing cycloid precision transmission was modified. The gear backlash has been increased in order to achieve higher speeds and the bearing has been optimised in order to be able to accommodate higher radial loads.

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Dimensions of the drive unit


 Model RVW-10PG RVW-20PG
 øa (mm) 254 508
b (mm) 134 278
 c (mm)* 166 308

*Values dependent on engine


  • Compact design
  • finished drive unit with precision gearbox
  • controllable in any direction
  • unbeatable with little space

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Mecanum Wheel