The HumanCar has the power to revolutionize transport

  • 28 january 2008

The HumanCar is being launched on April 22rd 2008 (Earthday) in South Menlo Park, Ca. This bi-directional human power interface harnesses all the large muscle groups of up to 4 people allowing users to easily cruise at speeds of up to 20 mph (45 mph with power assist). The machine offers a viable (preferable) alternative to the car in a wide range of scenarios.

A prototype vehicle (aka The Trouble Maker) can be seen on YouTube here. This vehicle has been taken up to 80 mph on downhills. As well as cooperative power drive, coordinated leaning from the front is required to steer the vehicle. There are currently 4 pre-production prototypes of The Imagine, the next generation of HumanCar. This includes features such as: a exoskeletal safety cage and chassis that has been tested at up to 100 mph on salt flats; duel electric motors and variable human power input. It will also carry regular vehicle extras like a radio a trunk and wi-fi. It will retail at $15,000.

The HumanCar started life as a flash of inspiration in the mind of Charles Samuel Greenwood, an engineer and drag racer in the late sixties. The project has been passed down a generation to Charles’ son Chuck. Chuck has been making the most of the Silicon Valley’s explosion of clean-tech resources. He is a member of the Green Technology Alliance and part of the Green Alley Project, which is taking over defunct car dealerships in South Melno and turning them into green-tech showrooms (including for the Tesla and Zap cars). His passion has made the HumanCar a reality and he clearly believes the machine has more to offer then simple transportation; test drivers regularly come back with their friends the following day, desperate for another ride. By all accounts the act of moving the vehicle together is a powerfully unifying and life affirming activity.

We have highlighted the multiple benefits of human powered transport before. The ubiquity of cheap energy from trapped sunlight, captured by prehistoric plants and now distilled into gas, has retarded the evolution of human powered transportation devices. Our mass dependence on this cheap energy has profoundly changed the landscapes in which we live (urban sprawl, congested cities and out of town shopping malls) as well as the landscapes of our bodies. Rising gas prices (and the threat of peak oil), environmental damage (including global warming), new urbanism and health concerns now present a real opportunity to go back to the drawing board to explore new ways of getting around using human power.

The bicycle remains a triumph of human ingenuity and a supremely efficient way of moving from a to b. However, there are drawbacks for the cyclist, you are alone and vulnerable on your bike and when it rains… you get wet! The HumanCar changes all that by offering communal pulling power and a roof. In the future we may return to walkable communities in which we can shop, work and live without the need for machine transportation. Until this time the HumanCar offers a great solution, allowing us to travel on existing road infrastructure without emitting green house gasses and with a range of personal benefits, from exercising the heart to putting an enormous smile on your face. Something tells me that even if we construct walkable eco-communities we will keep the HumanCars not for efficiency… just because they are fun.


Transformable Table Maximizes Utility In Small Spaces

Design & Architecture
Syndicated Yesterday

How Fashion Became All About Fonts

Why a new wave of designs have put typography front and center on your clothing

Retail Yesterday

GM And Audi Are Experimenting With Car Rentals In SF

The automakers are trying something new to capture the segment of urban dwellers who don't want to own a car


Get PSFK's Related Report: Sports Debrief

See All
Travel Yesterday

This Vertical Forest Hotel Will Improve The Air Around It

An architectural firm is creating a lush mountain lodging in China with so much greenery that it will actually clean the atmosphere

Related Expert

Layne Braunstein

experimental motion design and post-digital storytelling

Europe Yesterday

This Company Believes Insects Can Provide Biofuel To Power Our Future

A Polish group is testing out a new factory concept that can provide a source of renewable energy, and even serve space missions

Technology Yesterday

Music Venue Caters To Virtual Reality Events

Boiler Room has launched the first VR hub for content creators to capture special footage for the masses

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Automated Chessboard Lets You Play Against Anyone In The World

Square Off is an AI-powered board that can move the pieces on its own


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Creative Leadership Expert: Experiencing A Seismic Shift From Brand Loyalty To Interface Loyalty

Marc Shillum, founder of Chief Creative Office, explains why product designers must rethink the way they capture consumer attention

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Technology Yesterday

Contraband Recorder Helps Those In Need Capture Captive Conversations

Designer Marianna Mezhibovkaya created the device to help prison inmates capture crucial evidence of abuse

Advertising Yesterday

A Compelling Brand Purpose Is Never Born In The Boardroom

Strategist and Designer Anna-Rae Morris shares why she believes all brands exist for a reason, and how Snapchat has upended our behavior

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Xs And Os Of Performance-Enhanced Sports

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats explain that we're only at the iceberg's tip of performance enhancement

Retail Yesterday

Kodak’s Smartphone Is Inspired By A Retro Camera

Ektra is an Android phone with a powerful lens aimed at photographers

Sustainability Yesterday

Modern Home Created Entirely Out Of Modular Shipping Crates

A project in Ecuador used the ubiquitous material to design a spacious and industrial-chic house

Retail Yesterday

Retail Concept Offers Food Hall Inspired Space For Online Brands

The store will offer a lower cost way for internet entrepreneurs to try physical retailing

Advertising Yesterday

Disney Retells Beauty And The Beast On Snapchat

In a partnership with LACMA, the entertainment platform drew from over 130,000 works in the museum's collection

No search results found.