Without a doubt, Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) was a man ahead of his time. Fortunately, this Florentine who was at the same time a painter, anatomist, architect, paleontologist, artist, botanist, scientist, writer, sculptor, philosopher, engineer, inventor, musician, poet and urban planner left testimony of his prolific life.
The Last Supper and La Monalisa are his most famous paintings. The Vitruvian Man exposed his passion for the human body. While The Aerial Screw and his Flying Machine were examples of his ambition to be free… Although less well known, Leonardo also envisioned an autonomous vehicle similar to a car in 1495.
According to the plans in one of its codices, it measures 1,68 meters long and 1,49 meters wide and moves clockwise through springs that turn the wheels in the opposite direction to the one they should go to.
A group of experts has successfully rebuilt this unique model devised more than five centuries ago by Da Vinci and was able to travel several meters. The vehicle consists of a wooden cart with several leaf springs to regulate the movement, while the propulsion comes from two spiral springs placed in the lower part of the prototype and which allow it to move independently.
The machine is equipped with a rudimentary differential, which allows to control the direction. Everything indicates that Leonardo designed his peculiar car in the context of the Renaissance court festivals as a machine whose objective was to impress the great characters of the time during parties and meetings, rather than to serve as an effective means of transport. The design of Leonardo's “car” was already the subject of previous studies, such as that of Girolamo Calvi at the beginning of this century, who defined the original machine as “Leonardo's Fiat”.
However, until now it had not been possible to rebuild successfully due to the incorrect interpretation of the artist's drawings that have survived to this day, since what was believed to be the propeller motor was actually the device to control its direction.