Crazy-fast human-powered vehicle sets new world speed record

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Canada’s AeroVelo breaks human-powered land speed record.

It takes one heck of a weird bicycle to do it, but Aerovelo has created a human-powered vehicle capable of hitting speeds that would get the driver a hefty ticket on the interstate. Reichert achieved a speed of 85.71mph (137.9km/h) in a recumbent bike named Eta at the 2015 World Human-Powered Speed Championships at Battle Mountain in Nevada in the United States. That’s right, a bicyclist — pedaling entirely by himself — just topped out at a speed that would net you a speeding ticket on nearly any stretch of road in the entire United States. At the World Human Powered Speed Challenge (WHPSC), held annually along a five-mile stretch of highway in Battle Mountain, Nevada, the team’s Eta recumbent speed bike hit 85.71mph (137.93km/h) Thursday morning, besting the previous world record of 83.13 mph set by Sebastiaan Bowier of Human Power Team Delft in 2013.

Team AeroVelo’s record speed of 85.7 miles per hour, officially recorded by Canadian pilot Todd Reichart, comfortably tops the previously set record of 83.1 miles per hour set back in 2013. A former speedskater, Reichert is said to be capable of producing one horsepower for a minute and those legs have seen him involved in other notable feats.

He powered the flight of the world’s first human-powered ornithopter (Snowbird) in 2010 and he was also the pilot of the Atlas helicopter when the AeroVelo team claimed the 33-year-old Sikorsky prize for the first human-powered helicopter flight. It’s lightweight carbon fibre frame surrounded by a carbon-honeycomb sandwich shell reduce the 25kg speedbike’s drag to 100 times less than a modern car. However the exposed course highlighted some flaws in ‘Beastie’ – the vehicle that he had designed – and after crashing the bike, he admitted that the new prone record of 56.62mph that he had already secured was “close to the maximum” for the machine.

Even in 2010, a custom-built flapping wing craft built by AeroVelo recorded the world’s first sustained flight of its kind, staying in the air for 19 seconds. AeroVelo, co-founded by Reichert and fellow UofT alum, aerospace engineer Cameron Robertson in 2010, has won numerous awards including the Belt of Orion Award for Excellence from the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame; the A.H.S. Though it championed the human-powered aircraft categories, the land speed record had always been in its sights with the organization attempting such a record even as far back as 2011. The project to achieve this has involved all three universities in Liverpool; mechanical engineering students from the University of Liverpool having worked with sport science undergraduates and staff at Liverpool John Moores University and Hope University.

Dubbed Eta — a Greek reference to efficiency as it relates to engineering — AeroVelo’s main focus was to build a completely aerodynamic shell around the bike and its rider.

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