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Human-powered transport

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Human powered aircraft)

Human-powered transport is transport of person(s) and/or goods powered by human muscle.

The bicycle is the most popular human-powered vehicle
The bicycle is the most popular human-powered vehicle

Like animal-powered transport, human-powered transport has been in existence since time immemorial in the form of walking, running and swimming. However modern technology has led to machines to enhance human-power. Although motorization has reduced the effort in transport, many human-powered machines remain popular for leisure or exercise and for short distance travel. Human-powered transport is often the only (reliable) power source available in underdeveloped or inaccessible regions, and may be considered an ideal form of sustainable transportation.

Available muscle power

The Trikke works simply by shifting your body weight.
The Trikke works simply by shifting your body weight.

The average "in-shape" cyclist can produce about 3 watts/kg for more than an hour (e.g., around 200 watts for a 70 kg rider), with top amateurs producing 5 watts/kg and elite athletes achieving 6 watts/kg for similar lengths of time. Elite track sprinters are able to attain an instantaneous maximum output of around 2,000 watts, or in excess of 25 watts/kg; elite road cyclists may produce 1,600 to 1,700 watts as an instantaneous maximum in their burst to the finish line at the end of a five-hour long road race.


Human movement using only one's own body

  • Walking and running
  • Swimming and diving
  • Climbing as in alpinism and abseiling

Human self-movement using object(s) and sheer muscle power

Three human powered vehicles: the Gossamer Albatross II and two bicycles.
Three human powered vehicles: the Gossamer Albatross II and two bicycles.

A human-powered vehicle (HPV) is a vehicle powered solely by human muscle.

  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Cycling uses a bicycle, unicycle, tricycle, quadricycle, velomobile or similar wheeled vehicle, including collective variatons such as tandem bicycle and side-car
  • Ice skating
  • Kick scooter
  • Man-powered aircraft
  • Roller skating
  • Skateboarding
  • Trikke
  • Rowing

Human self-movement using object(s), muscle power and a natural force

Here the human effort is not used in the actual locomotion, but human intelligence is needed to exploit natural forces.

  • Glider (non-motorized if bungee launch or foot-launch is used)
  • Kitesurfing
  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Wind surfing

Human transport of others and/or load using object(s) and muscle power

  • Litters, e.g. Sedan chair
  • Rickshaw
  • Stretcher
  • Cycle rickshaw

Some of the vehicles mentioned in other categories above also exist(ed) in a version with cargo and/or passengers, such as the galley. Various of the above examples have also been models for a motorized variation.

Human-powered surface vehicles

Recumberant Cycles racing in Wonthaggi, Victoria
Recumberant Cycles racing in Wonthaggi, Victoria

The most common and most efficient human-powered vehicle is the bicycle. Variations on the bicycle, the recumbent bicycles, are the fastest human-powered vehicles because they are more aerodynamic than upright bicycles, while having a similar energy transfer efficiency. In 2002, Sam Whittingham pedaled a streamliner (a fully-faired recumbent) for 200 m at 130.36 km/h (81.00 mph) in the Varna Diablo II [1] As of 2005, that run still holds the International Human Powered Vehicle Association's speed record[2]

Olympic Cyclist and IRONMAN triathlon winner, John Howard set a 244.9 km/h (152.2 mph) speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah on July 20, 1985 while cycling in the wake of a motorized Vesco Streamliner pace-car.[3] The wake of pace-car reduced the aerodynamic drag against which Howard pedalled to almost zero.[4]

In 1969, artists in a small northern California town began the Kinetic sculpture race which has grown to a 42 mile (67.2 km), three-day all terrain, human-powered sculpture race and county wide event. It is held every year in the last weekend in May.

Human-powered aircraft

MIT Daedalus human powered aircraft
MIT Daedalus human powered aircraft

The first officially authenticated take-off and landing of a human-powered aircraft (one capable of powered takeoffs, unlike a glider) was made on 9 November 1961 by Derek Piggott in Southampton University's Man Powered Aircraft (SUMPA). (A claim for a flight by the Pedaliante in March 1937 is disputed because a catapult was used for take-off.) [5] [6]. Perhaps the best-known human-powered plane is the Gossamer Albatross, which flew across the English Channel in 1979. See Category:Human-powered_aircraft.

See also

  • Animal-powered transport
  • Locomotion
  • Sidewalk
  • International Human Powered Vehicle Association
  • Human powered helicopter


  1. ^ Varna Diablo II
  2. ^ International Human Powered Vehicle Association's speed record
  3. ^ Speed record 1
  4. ^ Speed record 2
  5. ^ Pedaliante 1
  6. ^ Pedaliante 2

External links

  • Human Powered Hydrofoils from 1953 to 2005
  • The Kinetic Sculpture race
  • The BARTMOBILE - a Kinetic Sculpture Race Machine
  • Human Powered vehicles and how to build them
  • Decavitator Human-Powered Hydrofoil
  • Human Powered Boats
  • Human Powered River Gyms
  • Human Powered Helicopters
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