The Physics Police

The Physics Police

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Human-Powered Helicopter

Powered by Todd Reichert, the Atlas human-powered helicopter won the Sikorsky Prize. This achievement realizes a dream that dates back to Leonardo da Vinci's ornithopter.

Just how much power did Todd have to produce to lift the craft 3.3 meters 10 seconds?
P = mgh/t = (55 kg + 80 kg) (9.8 m/s2) (3.3 m) / (10 s) = 436 W
Todd was able to output about 890 W during the first ten seconds of a power test. That means about half of the power went into lift, which is pretty impressive.

I would have expected more energy loss due to conversion along those long drive wires, and from air drag and turbulence.

Clearly, a lot of thought went into the design.

According to this graph, lighter "healthy men" stand a good chance to lift off with this vehicle.

Makes me want to give it a try!

Oh wait, I might not be light enough...

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