The Human-Powered Vehicle Design Team (HPVDT) is a student organization at the University of Toronto that is focused on the design and construction of innovative, high-performance human-powered vehicles. Those at AeroVelo were among the founding members of this team, and have been deeply involved in every project through the past 5 years. The team’s goal is to provide students with practical, hands-on experience in engineering design while promoting efficiency, sustainability and the use of human power as a means of reducing society’s impact on the environment. The HPVDT has helped grow student expertise especially in aerodynamic analysis, structural design, and composite fabrication.
The team was formed with the goal of taking on any human-powered vehicle engineering project, including aircraft and submersibles. However, the current focus is the design of high-speed, aerodynamic bicycles or “Speedbikes”, capable of reaching speeds well in excess of 100 km/hr, while still having the utility necessary for carrying groceries and travelling safely within a city. The team designs a new vehicle annually for competition in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge, a race specifically focused on the utilitarian aspects of the bike. As well, the team competes in the World Human-Powered Speed Challenge, where streamlined bicycles go to set speed records on a 5 mile stretch of road near Battle Mountain, Nevada.
The design of human-powered vehicles and speedbikes provides a new perspective on engineering design that is crucial for the next generation of engineers. The human body is a very limited power source, providing at most 1/3 horsepower for any extended period of time. Advances in vehicle speed and endurance are made by pushing the limits of structures and aerodynamics far beyond typical motorized designs. The fact that a 100 ft aircraft can be made to weigh 60 lbs and that a bicycle can reach speeds of up to 132 km/h on level ground are testaments to just how far we can go if we apply engineering design with a critical eye towards energy conservation.
In the winter academic season, design and construction of the next-generation vehicle takes priority over racing. New members to the team have an opportunity to learn to ride recumbent vehicles, while experienced members train on improving technique and building strength and endurance. The HPV team’s busy season consists of several events, many governed by the International Human-Powered Vehicles Association. Three of the most important are:
ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge
At this event, university teams compete in a series of races and challenges testing both vehicle and driver performance. This event is crucial for team development as it gives all members a chance to compete and test their creations. New members are encouraged to partake in this event. In 2010, the team’s rookie showing brought home 3rd-place overall in the speed class. In 2011, the team clinched 1st place overall in the more prestigious utility class, a fantastic showing and an incredible improvement. At the 2012 HPVC the team took home 4th place overall, reflecting a strengthening field and the team’s focus on making a Battle Mountain optimized bike for this season. The team hopes to retain an edge in the future through focus on developing eminently practical vehicles.
Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally, Waterford Race Track
One of the largest amateur organized events of its type, the objective is to compete against speedbike experts and professional athletes. Additionally, it provides a great opportunity to network with fellow builders and brainstorm ideas from proven designs. The event also serves as preparation for Battle Mountain and pushes riders to really perform when racing against record holders. During the 2011 event, the team took 1st in the Streamliner (fully-faired) Category top-speed and 1 Km sprint events, and performed well in the endurance event.
World Human Powered Speed Challenge – Battle Mountain, Nevada
The grand finale to the racing season is an event where all the hard work is put on the line, as riders push the boundaries of physics and aim to set the world record for fastest human powered vehicle. In both 2010 and 2011 the team set the Collegiate human-powered land speed records.