Aerovelo, a Canadian firm focused on human-powered technologies, has broken the standing world record with its latest invention – a bike shaped like a bullet that can go as fast as a car on a highway.
After breaking and setting successive new records over the week, on 19 September, the Aerovelo Eta speed bike succeeded in achieving the record breaking speed of 89.59mph (144.18 km/hr) at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge held in Battle Mountain, Nevada, on Highway 305, which is the straightest, flattest and smoothest road surface in the world.
Now officially the fastest human-powered vehicle on Earth, the Aerovelo Eta has a shell-like design to protect its rider from wind resistance and friction, as well as to make it as efficient as possible. The frame is made from wet lay carbon fibre, while the shell consists of panels constructed from a sandwich of carbon fibre adhered to a core of aramid honeycomb.
Together with razor-thin tires and a sophisticated vision system featuring dual SD cameras as well as screens with an on-screen display, the bike can fit one person, scrunched in a recumbent, laid-back reclining position.
The bike only requires 198 watts of pedal power at 90km/hr, which is equivalent to the same amount of power you'd need to keep three light bulbs illuminated.
The bike's creators – namely Aerovelo's cofounders Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson – have been racing bikes since 2009, and have already built two other amazing innovations: the world's first human-powered helicopter Atlas in 2013 and the world's first human-powered ornithopter Snowbird in 2010.
Google was so impressed by their work on the human-powered helicopter that it decided to sponsor the Eta, and the project has also received funding and support from GMC, the University of Toronto, Paterson Composites and Visual Unity.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to be riding in something that efficient. It cuts through the air with such little resistance, and before you know it, you're cruising at highway speeds on nothing more than your own power. When you realise that this is the same amount of power it takes to light up a few light bulbs, it's truly mind blowing," said Reichert.
The most popular and efficient human-powered land vehicles in the world continue to be the bicycle, followed by the skateboard, while recumbent bicycles like the Aerovelo Eta and velomobiles are also popular for racing down hills or on level ground. Cycle rickshaws and freight bicycles which enable a rider to tow a payload are also popular in different countries.
However, most of these vehicles cannot go that fast, and so inventors have long sought to improve them in order to create human-powered vehicles that do not require the user to manipulate heavy machinery.