The Smithinator: Recumbent Vehicle Design and Entry for the 2020 ASME HumanPowered Vehicle Challenge; The Potential of Human Powered Vehicles as a Solution to Pollution Issues in Cities

DeAngelis, Tom, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Smith, Natasha, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Gorman, Michael, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The technical report of this STS binder will discuss a capstone project that was completed
by a group of fourth year mechanical engineering undergrads. The goal of this project was to
design and build a human powered vehicle to compete in the American Society of Mechanical
Engineer’s (ASME) Human Powered Vehicle Competition that was scheduled to take place
April 3-5, 2020 at Michigan State University. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 concerns the
competition was cancelled. University facilities were also shut down due to concerns over the
virus so the team was unable to finish construction of the vehicle. The technical portion of this
binder highlights the design process and decisions made by the team throughout the year. It also
discusses the testing and research that went into preparing the team for manufacturing of the
final product.

ASME’s stated intention for holding this competition is to get students thinking about
human-powered transportation as in underdeveloped countries it might be the only reliable form
of transportation that is available. They also point out that it is a very sustainable transportation
option so it would be good to get these sorts of vehicles into circulation. This idea led to the
formulation of the topic for the STS paper portion of this binder. Instead of focusing on
developing nations, this paper places an emphasis on already developed cities where traffic
congestion and pollution are a significant contributor to global warming and carbon emissions.
The paper uses Actor-Network Theory to outline a possible network for human powered vehicles
to be integrated into urban infrastructure.

In particular, the STS paper focuses on the type of human powered vehicle that is
described in the technical portion of this binder. This type of vehicle can be broadly defined as a
pedal powered, three-wheeled, recumbent tricycle, with a mostly enclosed aerodynamic fairing.
This form of vehicle was chosen for the STS paper due to its unique properties, which give it
certain advantages over other alternatives. The student also had a certain level of expertise in this
type of vehicle due to working on the design and build of the vehicle throughout the year, which
made it possible to confidently write about the vehicle. The STS paper analyzes the pros and
cons of this human powered vehicle compared with other sustainable transportation alternatives
that are emerging. Although the paper concludes that this type of human powered vehicle may
not be the best option to make city transportation sustainable in the future, the conditions that
would need to be met for them to be a viable solution are defined and analyzed.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Human powered vehicle, Urban transportation, Recumbent, Sustainability

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Natasha Smith

STS Advisor: Michael Gorman

Technical Team Members: Todd Baber, Sandesh Banksota, Ethan Blundin, Ross Bonnin, Chloe Chang, Michael Jeong, Yasmin Khanan, Jeanluc Lapierre, Brad Mahaffey, Coke Matthews, Jesse Patterson, Henry Qi, Kristin Schmidt

Issued Date: