Human Powered Helicopter

The Atlas team has a pretty ambitious goal.

A human-powered helicopter (HPH) on the surface doesn’t sound like it should be such a hard thing, just pedal and spin some blades, right? Of course it’s really a very hard problem, between weight concerns, momentum, and how much energy a human can put out for any extended duration.

The requirements for the Sikorsky Prize, illustrated.

The requirements for the Sikorsky Prize, illustrated.

That’s why, in 1980, the American Helicopter Society created the Sikorsky Prize, an award to motivate engineers to create an HPH capable of hovering for just one minute, at a height of 3 meters from the ground. In over 30 years, no team has yet accomplished that.




The team building Atlas though, has a very good chance of pulling it off. They’ve already built a human powered ornithopter, and created a bicycle capable of over 70 MPH. According to their bio:

The project team includes two PhDs, one MASc and several undergraduate students in aerospace and related engineering fields. The team has been working together for 5 years on a number of groundbreaking and historical projects involving similar design and construction methodologies.

If anyone can pull this off, I think these guys can.