oRS from Kaza­khstan still the best self-steer­ing 4x4

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN • al­wyn.viljoen@wit­ness.co.za

SPE­CIAL­IST trans­port pro­ducer oRS is now tak­ing or­ders for the 2015 self-steer­ing 4x4 mod­els — all of which com­ply with the most strin­gent en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards.

oRS proudly traces its his­tory to Kaza­khstan and makes no apolo­gies that its dated man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses — like those of many for­mer USSR na­tions — use a bal­land-socket sys­tem to trans­fer power to the four in­de­pen­dently ar­tic­u­lated struts, in­stead of a more mod­ern metal clutch plate.

The ball-and-socket sys­tem does have the ad­van­tage that it al­lows an ex­pe­ri­enced con­troller to minutely vary the lo­co­mo­tive power to each strut, and it is a source of pride among such con­trollers to turn their units through 180 de­grees at full speed us­ing just the two rear struts.

For less ex­pe­ri­enced own­ers, four for­ward speeds and a re­verse gear are pre­set and au­to­mat­i­cally en­gaged with ei­ther ver­bal com­mands or phys­i­cal in­put. The lat­est oRS sys­tem can “learn” up to 12 com­mands, in­clud­ing steer­ing.

Most new own­ers, how­ever, steer with the stan­dard in­ter­ac­tive feed­back loop that can dou­ble as the ac­cel­er­a­tor in­put.

Ac­cel­er­ated to the third or fourth speed set­tings, the unique sus­pen­sion en­sures that all four struts are in the air four over 50% of the du­ra­tion of the for­ward mo­tion. This en­sures a ride that own­ers say feel ex­actly like “bursts of float­ing”, punc­tu­ated by a pleas­antly rhyth­mic per­cus­sion of the struts strik­ing the road sur­face.

In its third speed set­ting, the 2015 model can main­tain speeds be­tween 16-27 km/h even over rough ter­rain while re­main­ing ex­tremely light on fuel. The proven power plant turns most plant ma­te­ri­als into ki­netic en­ergy with urea, meth­ane and salt­peter the main byprod­ucts through three ex­haust sys­tems. The sin­glecham­ber power unit can make up to 10 kW, (about 14 horse­power) depend­ing on the fuel used, with trac­tion pro­vided by the four struts to en­sure for­ward mo­tion in up to 1 500 mm of mud or snow.

oRS has a proud his­tory of re­cy­cling and the units’ pel­lets of spent fuel are used around the world by mush­room grow­ers as well as a slow heat source by tra­di­tional cooks, es­pe­cially in Mon­go­lia. Ja­panese truck maker UD is cur­rently also us­ing the urea to turn toxic diesel gases into ni­tro­gen and wa­ter, while de­vel­op­ments on trap­ping the meth­ane us­ing party bal­loons is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

In keep­ing with the move­ment to­wards designing smaller ve­hi­cles to al­le­vi­ate traf­fic con­ges­tion, only one seat is pro­vided, but var­i­ous af­ter­mar­ket com­pa­nies make multi-seat units that hook up to the main power unit to con­vey from pupils to loads.

Real leather and in­vis­i­ble stitch­ing are stan­dard, as is a cel­lu­lar-driven re­pair process, which has been proven to be more nat­u­ral than the nano-paint tech­nolo­gies used by Nis­san and Mercedes-Benz to re­pair scratches.

For hard-core ad­ven­tur­ers keen on testing the renowned river­cross­ing abil­i­ties of the oRS units, the main at­trac­tion will, how­ever, be the Tresses™, placed at the rear and steer­ing ar­eas.

The Tresses™ are made from real horse hair and can be twined for ex­tra grip. As with all oRS prod­ucts, the unit is fully self-steer­ing and can find its way to the des­ti­na­tion set as “home” thanks to the Strat­i­fied Bi­o­log­i­cal Live En­try (STA­BLE) sys­tem.

Be­cause each unit has to be pro­grammed to its owner, oRS en­cour­ages in­di­vid­ual sales meet­ings. (The use of ap­ples in­stead of an­droid de­vices dur­ing th­ese meet­ings are en­cour­aged.)

The wait­ing list is cur­rently three years with prices on ap­pli­ca­tion at the lo­cal deal­ers.


This tongue-in-cheek piece serves to re­mind Wheels read­ers the hum­ble “oRS” still sets the stan­dard to which all sus­tain­able self­s­teer­ing ve­hi­cles aspire. And, yes, UD trucks re­ally has de­vel­oped a process that uses horse pee to sep­a­rate toxic diesel fumes into ni­tro­gen and wa­ter.

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