Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Better Grocery Getter

I've said it before, I love collegiate design challenges, and ASME's Human Powered Vehicle Challenge is no different.  Imagine pedal-power streaking you down the roads at 45 mph (72 km/hr).  That's enough for a speeding ticket in most neighborhoods -- while riding a bike?

This years challenge was a little different, and I would say much better, thanks to probing questions from the judges and and a new contest category.

Is It Practical?
The question posed by judges in competitions from years past was "Is your vehicle practical?."  The students from the team at Rose-Hulman could not answer "yes" to that question so this year, they made the bike practical.

Examples of the impractical nature of the prior years' vehicles include: difficult to ride; uncomfortable; required a team of people to launch it; and it needed constant maintenance.  Those examples aren't something grandma is going to be able to do on her own.

The New Category
The unrestricted class not only had teams competing in speed, but also in utility endurance events: climb a ramp, go over a speed bump, pass through a simulated rain shower, stop and pick up a parcel.  That's right, they want to make sure granny can carry her groceries home in her bike.  There is still nothing to prevent her from stopping right in front of the door, parking in the handicap spot, or going the wrong way down the parking aisles, though.

Congratulation to the Rose-Hulman  team for taking 1st place the third year running.

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