Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Aug 10

The Human Powered Car

Posted in Energy Inventions | Human Power | Transportation

Human Car Seattle company HumanCar®, founded by Charles S. Greenwood PE, has been developing human powered vehicles for over 30 years. Their showcase creation is the human car, a 4-wheel, 4-passenger vehicle that can achieve remarkable speeds of 60+ mph! Unfortunately the car is not available to the public, the orginal prototype cost $250,000. The stated goal of the project is to develop efficient transportation alternatives that inspire a “sense of an evolving socioeconomical model”. According to


®, “The time is drawing near when all of the elements – manufacturing, marketing, and product optimization – come together in a cost effective and aesthetically pleasing form.”

Human Car

HumanCar® Sales Brochure (PDF)
ImagineTM Pre-Order Information

Human Car Concept
Thanks to HumanCar® Inventor,

Charles S. Greenwood PE

, for providing this information, more to come!

HumanCar® Resources

SyncGuideway Concept

  • dagobert

    zero emission – ??? what about the gaseous, liquid and solid wastes produced by the engines?

  • matt gibbs

    This car is sick, where do i get me one of these?

  • Amanda

    I say this is totally useless in some aspects. For one, it can never be a family car, where would the baby sit? It can probably be used as a method of working out but it doesn’t seem like you’d actually need a license to drive the damn thing. Younger childern could get a hold of it and it’d be a major safety risk due to the fact that it doesn’t look like it can be locked up. Not only that, but how about the elderly and disabled? Where would they be seated and how could they drive the contraption?

  • Racer X

    I can respond to the obvious answers of the above post from Amanda. Fair questions, here’s the breakout. First, child seats, cargo, the disabled and elderly each work with HumanCar technology. In fact, adaptability is central to design. RFID lockout mode for safety. It’s usefulness is all about being used on a daily basis. In final analysis it may Increase mobility of the disabled and elderly. The form evolves….

  • tracy marshall franks

    I think the human powered autos are great, and I also have a concept human powered vehicle, but I have no capital to investigate or explore the possibility of real life testing. If you would like to hear more or have any insight on the matter please contact me. At present i live in Germany, but plan to move to Washington state in the future.

  • Non-Existant Billy

    What happens when the people running the machine get tired? And how do you drive?

  • Ducky

    What about rain and snow?

  • Elepski

    It’s a neat and novel design and idea… but not practical for any thing other than weekend tooling around…. no storage.. requires 4 people… requires constant energy from the riders…

  • solarwindwater

    So negative … “Totally useless”. Geez, better than $5/gal. Car pooling in nice weather? … For safety, though, I’d be worried about merge time. Combine with electric and slap a roof on it?

  • Petaluma

    In two videos (1:50 and 2.37 min), near the end, these four guys blew the stop sign. If you keep blowing stop signs, then instead of a green-car, you could end up in a red-mess.

  • Ed Pleskovitch

    I like the idea of the car. As was stated in another part of the video you could pick the style of body that you wanted. Could it be run by just two people, hmmm. Seems like that would be a possibility. Storage of groceries and such could be a part of the body style. I saw somewhere that it could reach speeds of 60mph, hmmmm, maybe downhill?

  • Joan Jourdan

    I think it’s fanfabulous. Come on people stop being so blasted negative. At almost $5 a gal for gas, I would buy it and my husband and I are in our sixties. Love it, love it love it. Joan

  • ya face

    Amanda, it doesn’t have to be the new car of the world, its just an awesome car, that if you can use, saves money.

  • bob duggan

    I love to see people coming up with alternatives. I would love to see more. Trying to come up with ideas to get around with out using oil is great. A one or two person, with a place to put my golf clubs would be great.

  • michelle

    Anybody here seen the dog powered scooter?
    I just got mine..My dogs love it..

    Yea, yea, Maybe its just a fun way of walking the dogs..
    But its a gas free way to go up to the corner store thats a mile away 😉

  • Que Que

    Uh – Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were way ahead of these guys. Cavemen were very inventive and have been portrayed as primitive whereas in reality they were quite advanced for their time. Cavewomen like Wilma and Betty were also very advanced, that’s how they got Pebbles and Bam Bam. Hellllo!

  • jamie

    Why not a car based on principals of less work to generate a longer lasting charge, something along the lines of how the Flintstones started their “cars” by lifting them and then running. The natural motion of the human body in the state of running could “re-generate” energy needed in the motor. Think human powered gyroscopes basically. At optimum energy release the average human body emits (hope I spelled that right) more than 700 Watts of kinetic energy? Go figure.

  • jamie

    Totally different field here. But we all know those horrible Amber Alerts? Why not develop cost efficient laser x-ray systems (powered by generators that generate energy from automobile and pedestrian traffic) at stop lights and stop signs, on major highways and roads with central police huds. So when one of those alerts go out a central computer to that state/city/region notifies all known systems and will regulate and x-ray (as well as infrared for body heat and heart monitoring units (UT)to see body heat sig’s. and low level sounds as heart beats, murmurs, whimpers kidnap victims that may be in trunks or the like) all vehicles in the immediate vicinity?

  • bruce

    They need to make one for those of us old farts with bad backs, just watching those folk wrench back and forth made my back hurt! Why not make it with pedals?

  • Steve the pirate

    Reminds me of a bunch of guys rowing a roman galley. Just needs a guy beating a drum and one with a whip and we could get some serious speed out of one of these. Seriously though I would think the less people you had in one the less weight so two people should be able to make one go maybe not as fast.

  • nancy selzer

    I don’t know how anyone could vote against the idea of a human-powered car. I’ve had the same idea for years with some modifications that could make this thing go faster, be safer, and only require one person supplying the energy. What you “simple-minded” people who vote “nay” on this idea forget, is, just because this is a simple idea and a simple prototype, is that it lays the ground work for all possible future advancements. We aren’t driving Model-T’s anymore, are we? But look what they lead to! Some people have no imagination. I think our government should pump some $ into this idea. By the way, government grants may be available for YOU to improve on this idea. At the very least voice your ideas and concerns. Others can build off your input. Rev up your brains and think of the possiblilites instead of being so negative.

  • Eric

    Think about the benefit to families and the environment in the over-populated cities of Asia and India. They already will squeeze three or four people on a bicycle. This would be a great transition for those families wanting to hop right into a fuel powered vehicle and might buy those governments some time to get their pollution emission problems in check. Have you thought of incorporating a magnetic motor into the equation to increase torque and decrease resistance to the operators?

  • jiffy dog

    IT will give you more stamina in the sack jack.

  • marielle

    Hey, I was a back seat driver in this HumanCar – Sept. 08. It is not so much work y’all!

    I also lived in Asia… they would LOVE it! And, they wouldn’t whine like westerners do…

  • Victory Gasworks

    I think this car is awesome! With a little more battery power it can do everything that you would need in a suburban environment.

  • luke

    Somebody should invent something like this that a single person can use, maybe like a motorcycle? But then the rowing might get uncomfortable, so why not use pedals? It sounds like a pretty good idea on paper, but i think people would rather pay for expensive cars and gas.

  • Jeff Bales

    Hmmm… it says that it goes 60mph, but, that is COASTING downhill. Hmmm…

  • Sonubu

    That’s 60mph around a corner my man – do the research, this is race car technology not some 3 wheeler that flips over at 20mph – this is the real deal – plus like Jiffy Dog said it makes you cut from head to toe.

  • Green Earth

    Nothing wrong with a car that also lets you get some exercise! It may not be for everyone, but it could be just right for many!

  • Lonnie hensley

    This car is ok but also another advanced one seater was the “pedicar ” of the 70’s . Here is a website for more info on it! It was an all enclosed vehicle with a 5 speed and reverse and had a straight line pedal motion . This car was discontinued and is no longer made it cost $550.00 . If this pedicar was made today with a sportier body and a two seater it would sell like hot cakes!

  • Andy Horning

    I see only three problems:
    1. Drivers, if they’re anything like voters, are destructive ignorami. And many are steering three tons of metal at over a mile a minute while eating a burrito and talking on the cellphone.
    2. Most cities are designed for cars, not for people. It’d take generations to fix that.
    3. Politicians will oppose you until you’re big enough to make fat campaign donations.

  • lonnie hensley

    Andy is right, actually most people wouldn’t give up the easiness of a car ( gas would have to be about 10 dollars or more a gallon for them to even think harder about that (not all people but most ) and their would (because of the collision factor almost need to have a area for pedal cars “like a bike path ” which almost assuredly will never happen .

    So meanwhile in area’s that would allow it pedal cars would have to share the inner city roads .

    this is not to discourage anyone from the adult pedal car idea i am slowly working on my own version i am using an abf berg pedal kart am planning on raising the body height , add 20 bicycle wheels and add an 18 speed derailer bicycle system and finally a light weight body . and eventually something i call turbo boost that will allow the car to take off fast from stop signs etc. so always keep an open mind its better than just giving up .

  • David

    I want to participate in the first HumanCar 500…

    Natural NASCAR… FORMULA FITNESS… Sweat Box Derby… Peddle Passion…

    Inspiring, innovative and ingenious. Keep it going, no pun intended.



  • Janet Hinkel

    This is great, but I’m looking for something that is designed around the natural movements of the human form. The human being is designed to walk and run long distances – upright. The seated and bicycle models for human movement aren’t great for the joints and muscles (particularly the knees, hamstring and lower back) over the long term and tend to require people to already be athletic. Most of these human powered models seem to be prioritizing speed. Is there anything out there prioritizing HOW the human body is used? Essentially, I’d like to “walk/run” 150 miles without it taking all day, have a vehicle that exponentially increases my speed and allows me to use the roadways.

  • Julia Saludes

    Mr. Lonnie Hensley is describing the PEDICAR from back in the 70s, it was an invention of my father’s that never panned out the way he intended. His design is very unique, and it was meant to be used by both fit an unfit alike. In the development phase of the project, he was endorsed by Dr. Paul Dudley White, a former US President’s personal physician (or so I was told at the time, I haven’t checked that out) but this Dr. drove the Pedicar up a flight of stairs outside the capital building in (Hartford?) when he was in his 80’s… I have driven it myself, it was a very unusual and easy drive, fully self contained. He had an order for 10,000 units from the Army, but manufacturing fell apart.

    It was awesome!

  • Marty Metras

    What is every one afraid of the idea is good and sound. We will not get rid of gas powered cars for a long time. We have hybrids and electrics on the road now why not make room for some more ideas.

  • C. Filtz

    Since the rowing motion seems pretty awkward, why not have a horizontal pedaling motion, like on a stepper? or since a lot of people do it naturally, why not use a swinging motion? (that might not be the best idea, we aren’t used to using much muscle power to swing our feet)

  • Andrew Horning

    C.Filtz, that’d be very cool for lots of reasons (low profile/aerodynamics, perhaps variable stroke length or even asynchronous pedaling for burst of power or control…), but it’d be perhaps impossible to beat the efficiency, gears, weight and cost of existing crank tech.

  • Neal Hilt

    I have a design for my “Human Vehicle”. As large as a mid-size. Pushing a foot platform or platforms spins four freewheeling 130 LB gear wheels. Direct torque to the rear axle. It accelerates then coasts between shifts or shift all four then coast. Travel a mile or more then pump again. Leg power multiplied. As you or two persons pump the drivers side or and passenger side platforms, gear wheels to chosen rpm. Accelerator petal to slave cylinder to hydro shift (four switch valve sys). Fluid engages clutches to pressure plates one at a time. Get your own car to 50 mph then neutral- see how far you go. Oil pump for lube. Generator for lights, horn , and stereo. Standard disk brakes.

  • Bob K

    I see so many here commenting about the cost of gasoline going up as a reason to make better use of human powered vehicles. If the cost of gasoline goes up to $5 a gallon in a couple years and $10 a gallon or more over the next 10 or so years, it’s only because we’ve decided as a nation that the environment is more important than inexpensive energy.

    We could easily tap into our natural gas, coal and oil reserves for the next few decades or so…long enough for greener sources of energy (solar, wind, etc.) to efficiently and economically take over the bulk of our nations’ energy needs.

    If gas and energy prices go up drastically in this country, it is by design, to speed up the implementation of green technologies now. That may seem like a great idea, but our economy may suffer tremendously in this approach (and some would argue it is already)and we will all be riding bikes and inexpensive human powered vehicles (like our legs)…not because we want to, but because it is all we can afford to do.

    Human powered vehicles such as the HumanCar will be nothing more than a novelty exercise vehicle for the wealthy. Green initiatives will only serve to shrink our economy until they become WAY more efficient and less expensive. The more we implement them, the more vehicles like this one will become attractive to own, but the less we will be able to afford one. It is quite the conundrum we are forcing on ourselves.

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