Colloquium: December 3, 2013

Doing More with Less: Human Flight on the Power of a Cordless Drill

Cameron Robertson

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 2:00 P.M. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium
(Video of the Lecture) within the Langley firewall only


On June 13th, 2013, AeroVelo’s Atlas Human-Powered Helicopter (HPH) captured the 33-year-outstanding Sikorsky Prize. Winning the prize required an HPH to fly for 60 seconds and achieve 3m in height, while remaining controlled within a 10m by 10m box. The presentation will chronicle the journey leading to this historic achievement, and the process behind the creation of Atlas, which included the Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter: the world’s first successful human-powered flapping wing aircraft. The evolving aircraft design strategies involved in developing these unique vehicles have included Multi-Disciplinary Optimization, high-performance composite structures, as well as many creative and innovative solutions to engineering challenges. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of future human-powered projects, including high-speed human-powered land vehicles, which will require aerodynamic shape optimization for extended runs of laminar flow, potentially setting the stage for the next phase of individual transportation technology.


Cameron Robertson is known for achieving two historical aviation firsts along with his colleague Todd Reichert: the first sustained flight of a human-powered flapping-wing aircraft in 2010; and winning the Sikorsky Prize in 2013 by flying a human powered helicopter to an altitude of 3 meters and staying aloft for 60 seconds, a feat once thought impossible. For the former flight, the two were named co-recipients of the CASI Trans-Canada McKee Trophy, among the highest honors in Canadian Aerospace. Cameron earned his MASc in 2010 from the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies. In 2012, he and Todd started AeroVelo Inc., a company focused on using human-powered vehicles as a platform to demonstrate creative engineering and to challenge the general perception of the impossible. For 2014 AeroVelo has set its focus on high-speed aerodynamic bicycles with the goal of pushing the current human-powered land-speed record.

Flyer suitable for printing.