This illustration of what looks like a motorcycle powering a Rube Goldberg machine is being identified as a patent-render for a vehicle reportedly being cooked up by students at Chang'an University in Xi'an, China. Looks neat, if a little pointless.

Visor Down and Autoblog seem a little unsure if-and-where anyone would need an off-roader that can do what an ATV does in slightly skinnier places, carry a lot less cargo, and require significant mechanical complexities to run. And how much fuel is this thing going to suck down?

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The patent image makes the machine look like it's rolling on a single-tread, but it seems like that'd have to be two in parallel so the thing could still turn. At any rate, nobody seems to know much about the actual engineering behind the drawing... if there is any.

For all we know the patent is being applied so this thing can star in a cartoon or be made into a toy, nobody has said yet if it's come from the engineering or art department. After flipping through the archives of Chinese patents, the closest thing I could find was this "two-person treaded bicycle with concentric axles" dreamed up by Qin Haitian in 1986, so, not the same thing.

Anyone have speculation on how this new half-bike, half-tank might work or be used?

Image: All over the internet via the China Patent Office