Ever since the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang came out, fans across the country have awaited a flying vehicle that doesn’t produce CO2 emissions. While a flying car powered by magic really isn’t feasible (unfortunately), members of the Human-Powered Flight Club of the University College London’s Student Union (HPFC UCLU) are in the process of developing the next best thing: a hovercraft powered by pedaling. Dubbed the Steam Boat Willy, the craft recently completed a test run across the Thames River, and was even displayed at the UK Hovershow this July.
The Steam Boat Willy resembles a paddle boat crossed with an inflatable raft, and does not use steam (as it’s name would have you believe), but pressurized air. Drivers sit down and place their feet upon the pedals. Once pedalling begins, the raft will inflate, the propeller at the back of the craft will rotate and a lift fan in the front starts to spin. Once the raft fully inflates, air is ejected from the bottom of the craft, allowing it to glide along like a traditional hovercraft.
The Steam Boat Willy is a work in progress, and the HPFC UCLU has been making modifications since they began working on the craft a few years ago. The hovercraft joins a constantly growing number of human-powered devices, like the Schweeb monorail or knee brace that creates electricity from human movement.
But while Steam Boat Willy’s developers may have high hopes for the craft, as of right now, its practicality seems limited. As seen in this YouTube video, steering the device seems quite difficult, while pedaling requires a fair amount of effort from the driver. Using a bike on land and a kayak or paddleboat in water seems to be a more effective and just as eco-friendly method of travel. Still, we applaud any effort to create vehicles that don’t derive their power from fossil fuels.
177 Comments >
19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World's Oceans
- 106 Comments >
- 38 Comments >
- 18 Comments >
- 2002 Comments >
411 Comments >
BACK TO SCHOOL GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a HP Pavilion dv6 Laptop and Green Prize Package (Worth $1155!)
- 391 Comments >
- 366 Comments >
- 350 Comments >
284 Comments >
LAST CHANCE: Enter to Win a Voltaic Laptop-Charging Solar Backpack Filled With Green School Supplies (Worth $500)!
281 Comments >
GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a Sloan AQUS Grey Water Toilet System That Recycles Your Sink Water (Worth $189)!
- 247 Comments >
240 Comments >
LAST CHANCE: Enter Inhabitat's Back To School Contest to Win $250+ of Green Goodies Including a Voltaic Solar Backpack (Worth $129)
- 228 Comments >
- 221 Comments >
- 187 Comments >
Namba Parks was conceived when Osaka Stadium closed down, presenting a great redevelopment opportunity for a new commercial district right next to the Namba Train Station, which is just one stop away from Kansai Airport. Since it's one of the first placesREAD MORE >
Top image: A child is put to work at a militia-run mine in Watsa. © Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic Captured during a 2004 visit to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Bleasdale's images "tell the story of the country's mineral resourceREAD MORE >
You've all heard the tired mantras about changing your lightbulbs and recycling at home in order to save the planet - are you yawning yet? Many consumers think that going green is a gesture of self-sacrifice that often comes at great expense and inconvenienceREAD MORE >
Did you know that there are wolves living near you in almost every state in the country? Sadly most of these wolves are not living in the wild, but in wolf sanctuaries, which are conservation organizations set up to protect them and help grow their populationREAD MORE >
BANANAS You might have heard that bananas are favored by athletes because they contain potassium and it's that same reason that makes them great hangover cures. When you're hungover, your body has lost a lot of potassium that needs to be replenished, so eatingREAD MORE >
Images © Graham King “The shopping cart tree symbolizes both generosity and abundance, as well as acknowledging those less fortunate where their whole world may be housed in a cart. We see shopping carts every day and take them for granted. IndividuallyREAD MORE >
TIP 1: Wrap Your Home in Insulation - "The More, The Better!" Proper insulation is probably the most important factor you can control in creating an energy-efficient home. I always say insulation is like chocolate, the more you have, the better! On average,READ MORE >
While conjuring up comfort in the home seems like a basic principle, it’s a far more complex process for architect & remodeling guru Sarah Susanka, who believes that comfort can significantly influence the sustainability of your personal abode. WithREAD MORE >
Two architects, Jos Burger and Wouter Keijzer of BK. Architecten, in charge of the renovation of the old church decided to preserve the atmosphere of the existing place with a spatial intervention that preserves its historical value. The three new floors wereREAD MORE >
For centuries, the Dutch have manipulated the landscape to move water away from their dwellings. Instead of battling the elements, Netherlands-based firm Waterstudio just announced plans to construct the world's first floating apartment complex in 2014! TheREAD MORE >
The Biomimicry Manual: What can We Learn About Resilience, Weight Loss, and Kidney Disease from the Grizzly Bear?I'm off to the wilds of Montana this week, doing some in-person, up-close biomimicry research, and I've got my fingers crossed I'll see a grizzly bear. But you know, over there, not over here. With five inch long claws, massive muscular shoulders and forearms,READ MORE >
INHABITAT: How does the term Colorfast describe your latest show? R Nelson Parrish: The term Colorfast originally is a textile industry term derived at the beginning of the last century. It defines how a color cannot fade, wash out, or be diluted over time,READ MORE >