The Imagine Power Station, the heart of the new machine, is built by HumanCar Inc. It can be started by a few backwards/forwards hand cranks, and the company says a senior citizen in reasonable shape would be able to manage the cranking easily. Moreover, it can be operated in electric power mode only or any combination of human and electric power.
The mastermind behind this unusual combination is engineering prrofessor Charles Samuel Greenwood, who has been working on human-powered vehicles for over four decades. His latest development is this street legal sedan version, capable of carrying four people. If all four people are cranking, the vehicle can run solely on human power. However, the design allows for the chassis to be adapted to different styles and different types of batteries – thus allowing compatibility with future technologies.
Early test devices – dating as far as 1968 – dealt mostly with bicycle style mechanisms, but these would not provide a full-body workout. Therefore the design shifted to rowing-like movements. The Imagine PS is Greenwood’s latest invention, after a long line of respectable – yet not very effective – vehicles.
The recent demonstration (seen in this YouTube video) shows an open vehicle, but an all-weather roof will be available for the commercial version. Other advanced features include a touch-screen display with GPS and biometric data logging, and computing, communications, and sound systems. Safety is provided by a sophisticated structural system and controlled energy absorption areas.
The Imagine PS is expected to be available next year with a price tag of $15,500. According to HumanCar, production will begin when the company receives 800 pre-orders; currently it has about a hundred. Greenwood said the company is independent and "essentially profitable right now." Furthermore, they plan on taking human-powered cars to the developing world, along with other products such as a two-person mobile power station that folds into a suitcase.
TFOT has also covered the Aquaduct, a pedal powered vehicle that transports, filters, and stores water for the developing world, and the a knee brace that captures energy from walking and utilizes it to generate electricity.
For more information about the human-electric hybrid car, see HumanCar’s website.