Saturday, October 21, 2006

ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPV)

An annual contest for mechanical engineering students features velomobile development, but it seems to exist in a separate universe from the velomobile manufacturing world. The word "velomobile" doesn't even appear in the announcement. (See the link in the header.)

"ASME sponsors the Human Powered Vehicle Competition in hopes of finding a design that can be used for everyday activities ranging from commuting to and from work to going to the grocery store. Senior engineering students can use this competition for their capstone project and with their efforts design and construct a fast, sleek, and safe vehicle capable of road use. "

"There are three different vehicle classes:

Single Rider - operated and powered by a single individual
Multi-rider - operated and powered by two or more individuals
Utility - vehicle designed for every-day transportation for such activities as commuting to work or school, shopping trips, and general transportation

The rider (or riders) can be in upright, prone or recumbent positions. The single and tandem vehicles compete in sprint and endurance events. The practical vehicle emphasizes the usefulness of the vehicle for daily activities such as shopping, transportation or recreation. The practical vehicles must negotiate a slalom course with the challenge of carrying packages, going over bumps, potholes or other obstacles while stopping at signs and obeying the rules of the road."

"All vehicles in all classes of competition are required to have a full or partial aerodynamic fairing. This fairing must cover 1/3 of the frontal area of the vehicle and be built such that it clearly shows the provided number assigned to the vehicle and ASME logo. "

Cycling enthusiasts should encourage more coverage of these events -- it's hard to find any information on past participants and their vehicles, and it would be nice to have more links between the engineering students and the actual users of existing velomobiles.

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