Why Can't We Create A Human-Powered Helicopter Already?

The concept of a human-powered helicopter is surprisingly simple. The creation of a human-powered helicopter? Not so simple. People have been trying for 30 years to create a human-powered helicopter that can hover for 60 seconds, reach a height of 3 metres and stay inside a 10-metre box and no one has ever done it yet.

NPR took a look at the students who are trying to build the helicopter and win the Sikorsky Prize, which promises $US250,000 to the group who does it.

Check out the video above and you'll see the precocious kids who build these helicopters. Some of them work for years or fail 20 times or can only get off the ground for 4 seconds or reach a height of a couple feet, yet they still keep working at it. Watch the video above to see the groups' impressive work ethic. [NPR via Kottke]


Comments

    Why not get someone like Cadel Evans to power it?

    The reason it's drifting is because force is not being distributed equally throughout all 4 rotors, you need a more efficient/consistent means of transferring power from the pedals and hand cranks, kind of like a how a drive shaft translates force from an engine. In the case of a car force generated in each chamber is not constant, there can be minor differences but the overall smoothness of acceleration and maintaining speed is constant as the force is distributed from multiple pistons to the crankshaft.

      your better off explaining a 4wd (or AWD) and then you'll see it's not that easy to distribute power evenly, because a 4wd car will not spread power evenly without use of computer assistance.. so if its that hard to transfer power evenly to 2 diffs, imagine 2 more on top of that (4 rotors). its harder than you think.

      using a car with its single driveshaft as an analagy would be the equivalent to only one of the four rotors in this case

    I wonder if it's against the rules to use a weighted flywheel in the drive?

    part of the issue is that it's just really dam exhausting to keep it in the air... but a weighted flywheel would mean once you're off the ground, you could put a lot less effort into maintaining flight, cause the inertia of the flywheel spinning would keep the rotors spinning.

      except that the more weight you add to the flywheel, the more energy required to get off the ground in the first place as well as maintaining lift once you're up

    " Why Can’t We Create A Human-Powered Helicopter Already? "
    Because Lance has used up all the performance enhancing kit that's needed.
    Give it a few more months for supply to build back up.

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