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Wind-powered vehicle

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Title: Wind-powered vehicle  
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Subject: Wind power, Tricycles, Wind power in Thailand, Wind power in France, Chinkara Motors
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Wind-powered vehicle

Wind-powered vehicles have traditionally been associated with seafaring vehicles that, until the advent of steam engines, relied primarily upon winds which were used to drive the sails of such vehicles to their destinations. In the Western world, such sail-based wind propulsion on water persists in the modern day within primarily leisurely activities, such as sailing boats, sailing ships, yachting, and windsurfing. A special case is ice yachting on ice-covered water.

Terrestrial sail-based wind propulsion in the form of land sailing and land windsurfing are also popular recreational activities.

Terrestrial and seagoing wind propulsion by use of kites as propulsion subassembly are also wind-powered vehicles. OceanKite,[1] KiteShip,[2] KitVes,[3] are just a few contemporary examples of kite-based wind-powered vehicles. Kite buggying is an ongoing WPV activity.

Wind-powered mechanical vehicles

Wind-powered mechanical vehicles primarily use wind turbines installed at a strategic point of the vehicle. The wind power, which is converted into mechanical energy through gears, belts or chains, causes the vehicle to propel forward. While they are not in mainstream use yet, many schools have begun building the new technology and research into their curricula to teach students and to get them active in the subject. Seagoing electric propulsion where the electricity is derived from the kite subassembly is an ongoing activity by KitVes.[3]

On land

Terrestrial wind-powered mechanicals includes Ventomobile, and Spirit of Amsterdam (1 & 2). The Mercedes-Benz Formula Zero uses solar cells, batteries, and a sail. The Greenbird, which currently holds a world record for fastest wind powered vehicle, is sail powered.


The InVentus Ventomobile racing at the Aeolus Race 2008

The Ventomobile is a solely wind powered lightweight three-wheeler designed by University of Stuttgart students. It won the first prize at the Racing Aeolus held at Den Helder, Netherlands, in August 2008.[4] At the Aeolus race, several universities from all over the world participate in race to build the best and fastest wind powered vehicle.

Matthias Schubert, Chief Technical Officer of the teams’ main sponsor REpower Systems AG, applauded the integration of the InVentus Ventomobile project into the coursework of the students: “The achievement of managing a big team over many months, and even making select construction tasks part of undergraduate teaching cannot be estimated highly enough! The enthusiasm the students show in renewable energies and the development of innovative solutions should serve the industry as an example for the development of new technologies."[5]

Spirit of Amsterdam

The Wind-powered vehicle "Spirit of Amsterdam 1" and "Spirit of Amsterdam 2" is, just like the Ventomobile, a WPV build by the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (University of Applied Science Amsterdam). In 2009 & 2010 the Spirit of Amsterdam 1 and 2 won first prize at the Racing Aeolus held in Denmark.[6]

The Spirit of Amsterdam 2 is the second vehicle built by the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. It uses a wind turbine to capture the wind velocity and uses mechanical power to propel the vehicle against the wind. This vehicle is capable of driving 6.6 meters per second with a 10 meter per second wind. Next to its reduced weight, the main advantage is the onboard computer with its sophisticated control system. This specially designed computer is capable of automatically shifting gear in a fraction of a second, and by this the gears are always shifted to their most efficient position.[7]

Mercedes-Benz Formula Zero

Unlike traditional racing, which focuses merely on the order of finish, Mercedes' new concept introduces energy efficiency as an integral part of the competition. The Formula Zero Racer is loaded with technology designed to extract the maximum thrust from the electric hub motors, aero-efficient solar skin and high-tech rigid sail.[8]


Ecotricity's Greenbird vehicle, designed and piloted by Richard Jenkins, broke the land speed world record for a wind-powered vehicle in 2009.[9]“Greenbird recorded a top speed of 126.4 mph (203.4 km/h), and sustained a speed of 126.2 mph (203.1 km/h) for the required time of three seconds, beating the previous, American held, record of 116 mph (186.7 km/h), set by Bob Schumacher in the Iron Duck in March 1999 at the same location.[10]


Land yacht Blackbird
Note that the streamers on the yacht and on the ground point in opposite directions
Land yacht Blackbird
More recent version, with fairing to improve performance

The Blackbird is an experimental land yacht, built to demonstrate that it is possible to sail directly downwind faster than the wind (DDWFTTW).

In 2006, following a viral internet debate started as a brain teaser,[n 1][11] a propeller-driven land yacht was built and filmed, showing it was possible to sail 'dead' downwind faster than the wind by the power of the available wind only.[12]

In 2009, a MIT professor had worked out the equations for such a device[13] and concluded that one could be built in practice "without too much difficulty".[14] Other researchers arrived at similar conclusions.[15]

In the same year, after being challenged that the video was a hoax, team members Rick Cavallaro and John Borton of Sportvision, sponsored by Google and in association with the San Jose State University aeronautics department, built a test vehicle nicknamed Blackbird. A year later, in 2010 Cavallaro successfully tested the vehicle, achieving more than 2 times the speed of wind,[16] definitively demonstrating that it is possible to build a vehicle which can achieve the claim.[17][18][19][20]

A second test with an improved vehicle in 2011 reached close to 3 times the speed of wind.[21]


  1. ^ Rick Cavallaro (August 27, 2010). "A Long, Strange, Trip Downwind Faster Than the Wind". Wired. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 


  1. ^ Anne Quémeré
  2. ^ KiteShip
  3. ^ a b KitVes
  4. ^ "Wind-powered 'Ventomobile' Places First in Race". Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ "The remarkable first race for wind-powered vehicles". Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  6. ^ "Wind Turbine Race Report 2010". Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  7. ^ "Spirit of Amsterdam". Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  8. ^ LA_Design_Challenge_Motor_Sports_2025_The_Mercedes_Benz_Formula_Zero.html
  9. ^ Wind-powered car breaks record
  10. ^ "Record-breaking Wind-powered Car Gives A Glimpse Of The Future - Engineer Live, For Engineers, By Engineers". Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  11. ^ boat design lengthy discussion, linking to many other discussions on this topic.
  12. ^ Goodman, Jack (January 2006). "Down wind faster than the wind". Catalyst (Journal of the Amateur Yacht Research Society). Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  13. ^ Drela, Mark. "DDFTTW Power Analysis". Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  14. ^ Drela, Mark. "Dead-Downwind Faster Than The Wind (DFTTW) Analysis". Retrieved June 15, 2010. 
  15. ^ Gaunaa, Mac; Øye, Stig; Mikkelsen, Robert. "Theory and Design of Flow Driven Vehicles Using Rotors for Energy Conversion". , A lecture about upwind-carts & DDWFTTW-carts at the Technical University of Denmark
  16. ^ Rick Cavallaro (August 27, 2010). "A Long, Strange, Trip Downwind Faster Than the Wind". Wired. Retrieved 2010-09-14.  - Explanation of the Blackbird workings and its physics.
  17. ^ Cort, Adam (April 5, 2010). "Running Faster than the Wind". Retrieved January 9, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Ride Like the Wind (only faster)". Retrieved April 6, 2010. 
  19. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (June 2, 2010). "Wind Powered Actually Moves Faster Than Wind Speed, Answering Tricky Physics Question". Retrieved July 1, 2010. 
  20. ^ Barry, Keith (June 2, 2010). "Wind Powered Car Travels Downwind Faster Than The Wind". Retrieved July 1, 2010. 
  21. ^ Adam Fischer (February 28, 2011). "One Man’s Quest to Outrace Wind". Wired. Retrieved 2012-07-03. 
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