This RC Tank Is Propelled by a Unique Screw Drive

They were uncommon, so you’d be forgiven for not knowing about wacky screw-driven vehicles. These are vehicles that use giant auger-like screws in place of the more pedestrian wheels or tracks found on traditional vehicles. Screw drives aren’t efficient, but they excel at traversing even the most difficult terrain—like deep snow, sand, mud, and even swamp.

For the most part, screw drive vehicles have only been built for extremely harsh environments. For example, the Soviet Union developed the amphibious ZIL-2906 to recover cosmonaut-carrying Soyuz space capsules from remote and harsh locations. Taking inspiration from vehicles like that, Ivan Miranda built a working screw drive RC tank.

On a technical level, Miranda’s creation works pretty much like any other RC vehicle. But, that’s where the similarity ends. In place of wheels, there are large 3D-printed drums wrapped in a helix to form the screws themselves. These are mirrored, so one spins clockwise while the other spins counter-clockwise, with the helixes being wound to match the rotation direction.

As you can see in the video, the screw drive works surprisingly well in sand. It’s quick, and handles nimbly even in loose stand. Because of the nature of screw drives, it should actually perform better in loose sand than on hard surfaces, which makes ideal for difficult terrain.