Toronto Team Nabs $250,000 Prize with Human-powered Helicopter

A team of students from the University of Toronto has successfully created a human-powered helicopter and claimed a $250,000 prize from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

The device is the result of a challenge Sikorsky Aircraft issued way back in 1980. The objective was to create a helicopter that could rise three meters and hover over a 10-meter-by-10-meter box for one minute. The catch? The helicopter had to do all of this using only human-generated power. The prize for the team that succeeded was $10,000. More than 20 teams have accepted the challenge over the last 30 years but none have succeeded (though several have come close in the last couple of years). In 2009, the company upped the bounty to $250,000.

Enter AeroVelo Inc., a Toronto-based company led by pilot and chief engineer Dr. Todd Reichert and co-chief engineer Cameron Robertson. Together with a host of students from the University of Toronto, Reichert and Robertson flew the ‘Atlas’ aircraft 9.8 feet into the air and hovered for approximately 64 seconds. The Atlas boasts four rotors, each spanning 70 feet, and a carbon tube and polymer frame. A single person on a modified bicycle provides the power necessary for Atlas to get off the ground.

The team was this week presented with the prize money at the Soccer Centre in Vaughn, Ontario. Check out Atlas in flight in the video below.

Jane McEntegart

Jane McEntegart

Editor, writer, social media butterfly, mover, shaker, money maker (kind of)