Gamera is setting the new standard in human-powered flight.
From water-craft to monorail systems, human-powered machines seem to be on a rising trend. Recently, a team of 50 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Maryland have been testing a human-powered helicopter. The helicopter, called Gamera, was designed and built by students from the A. James Clark School of engineering.
On May 12, 2011, powered and piloted by biology student Judy Wexler, Gamera achieved lift-off and hovered for 4.2 seconds. Although a short flight, those 4.2. seconds established the U.S. national records for duration of a human-powered helicopter flight and for duration of a human-powered helicopter flight piloted a woman, as certified by the National Aeronautic Association in Washington, D.C.
Keep an eye out for future flights from Gamera this summer. The team is setting their sights on a 60-second hover as well as a third flight in the fall to try for the still unclaimed Sikorsky prize.
Valued at $250,000, the Sikorsky Prize was established in 1980 by the American Helicopter Society in honor of helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky.
The Sikorsky Prize requires a team or individual to complete the following:
1) Build a helicopter powered only by human means
2) Lift off and achieve a hover time of 60 seconds
3) Achieve a height of 3 meters sometime during the 60 second flight
4) Stay within a 10 square meter area during the 60 second flight
We may still be a far reach from human-powered flight on a mass scale, but these Maryland students are definitely raising the bar.
Source: University of Maryland