Urban Transport

The Future People push the boundaries of human-powered transport

The Future People push the bou...
The futuristic looking Zeppelin three-wheeler features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior and a 750 watt electric rear motor to supplement pedal-power
The futuristic looking Zeppelin three-wheeler features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior and a 750 watt electric rear motor to supplement pedal-power
View 20 Images
The Zeppelin and Cyclone prototypes push the boundaries of the common human-powered vehicle (HPV)
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The Zeppelin and Cyclone prototypes push the boundaries of the common human-powered vehicle (HPV)
The Zeppelin offers an experience that sits somewhere between a vintage automobile and a tricycle
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The Zeppelin offers an experience that sits somewhere between a vintage automobile and a tricycle
The Zeppelin lightweight body lifts up for easy access
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The Zeppelin lightweight body lifts up for easy access
The Zeppelin features an electric motor which can reach a maximum speed of 25mph (40km/h)
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The Zeppelin features an electric motor which can reach a maximum speed of 25mph (40km/h)
The Zeppelin model can be powered by the tandem riders or assisted with the electric motor
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The Zeppelin model can be powered by the tandem riders or assisted with the electric motor
The vintage-inspired Cyclone model features an elegant white exterior shell
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The vintage-inspired Cyclone model features an elegant white exterior shell
The vintage-inspired Cyclone
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The vintage-inspired Cyclone
The Cyclone model features mahogany interior flooring and leather seats
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The Cyclone model features mahogany interior flooring and leather seats
The Cyclone features two additional passenger seats located in the back
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The Cyclone features two additional passenger seats located in the back
The futuristic looking Zeppelin features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior
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The futuristic looking Zeppelin features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior
The Zeppelin comes equipped with a 750 watt electric rear motor
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The Zeppelin comes equipped with a 750 watt electric rear motor
The Zeppelin features a traditional three wheel velomobile base structure
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The Zeppelin features a traditional three wheel velomobile base structure
The Zeppelin can be powered by the tandem riders or assisted with the electric motor which can reach a maximum speed of 25mph (40km/h)
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The Zeppelin can be powered by the tandem riders or assisted with the electric motor which can reach a maximum speed of 25mph (40km/h)
The Cyclone prototype was created in CAD software and CNC lasers were used to cut many of the custom aluminum or steel parts
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The Cyclone prototype was created in CAD software and CNC lasers were used to cut many of the custom aluminum or steel parts
The Cyclone looks more like a car than a velomobile
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The Cyclone looks more like a car than a velomobile
The futuristic looking Zeppelin three-wheeler features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior and a 750 watt electric rear motor to supplement pedal-power
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The futuristic looking Zeppelin three-wheeler features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior and a 750 watt electric rear motor to supplement pedal-power
Both front seat occupants power the vehicle by pedalling
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Both front seat occupants power the vehicle by pedalling
The lightweight Zeppelin weighs in at just 270 lbs (123kg) and can drive for 20 miles (32 km) on a full charge
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The lightweight Zeppelin weighs in at just 270 lbs (123kg) and can drive for 20 miles (32 km) on a full charge
Zeppelin front tandem pedals
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Zeppelin front tandem pedals
Cyclone front tandem pedals
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Cyclone front tandem pedals
View gallery - 20 images

The team behind The Future People, who brought us the FireFly back in 2013, has recently completed two more human-powered velomobiles which where on display during the 2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show. Dubbed Zeppelin and Cyclone, both prototypes push the boundaries of the common human-powered vehicle (HPV) with designs that look to the past and the future.

"Since I was a child I have often found that the things I wanted did not exist," Future People's head designer Cameron Van Dyke tells Gizmag. "That put me in a position to somehow figure out a way to build it myself. When it comes to my transportation choices I have been having a hard time reconciling the chasm between the bicycle option and the car option. The bike is generally not quite large or fast enough for what I need to do, but the car is way too much. This project attempts to create an option that exists between those two extremes."

Both front seat occupants power the vehicle by pedalling
Both front seat occupants power the vehicle by pedalling

In order to create the “future cycles” Van Dyke drew upon his background in furniture design and fabrication while also adopting boat building and traditional bike assembly techniques. The result saw the creation of two distinct prototypes that feature a lightweight aluminum exterior shell, seating for two front riders and rear storage space. Both designs were created in CAD software and CNC lasers were used to cut many of the custom aluminum or steel parts.

"The design methodology was very familiar to me," says Van Dyke. "The challenging part was that I needed to learn how the systems of a vehicle work – particularly steering, suspension, and braking – and how to integrate those systems with a bicycle drive-train. Through many iterations I choose an arrangement that I felt was the most beautiful and simple way possible."

Cyclone front tandem pedals
Cyclone front tandem pedals

The vintage-inspired Cyclone model features an elegant white exterior shell, mahogany interior flooring, leather seats and a four wheel chassis. Both front seat occupants power the vehicle by pedaling and there are two additional passenger seats located in the back.

In contrast, the futuristic looking Zeppelin features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior, 750 watt electric rear motor and a traditional three wheel velomobile base structure. The model can be powered by the tandem riders or assisted with the electric motor which can reach a maximum speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).

The lightweight model weighs in at 270 lbs (123 kg) and can drive for 20 miles (32 km) on a full charge. According to Van Dyke, in the most parts of the United States the Zeppelin is legally considered a bicycle and can thus be driven without a license, insurance or registration.

The futuristic looking Zeppelin features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior
The futuristic looking Zeppelin features an aluminum and polycarbonate exterior

Unfortunately the Future People's concept vehicles are not on the market, however Van Dyke did reveal to Gizmag that he was interested in making the designs open source.

"The open source model is one that definitely interests us as a way to share and spread the message. It would be a powerful message to the auto industry if many of us begin to build our own cars. At the moment we are continuing to refine these concepts on our own and decide where to go with idea next. I do hope that others are inspired to try their own experimentation with vehicle alternatives."

See Future People's Cyclone and Zeppelin in full action in the videos below.

Source: The Future People via Designboom

Zeppelin, a human electric hybrid vehicle by The Future People

Cyclone, a human powered vehicle by The Future People

View gallery - 20 images
15 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I like the Zeppelin better than the Cyclone. I can see it being a fun way to get some exercise. I don't see them being overly practical; perhaps in a closed community or a city that don't have cars. The box shape of the Cyclone seems to make it more difficult to pedal.
Buellrider
Pretty nice design. Reminds me of a camper. Neat.
Gadgeteer
Thoroughly impractical. Much wider than a bicycle, so those would have to take a full lane, which would annoy motorists no end since those can't keep up with car traffic. The federal e-bike law limits maximum assist speed to 20mph, not 25. At 25, they would be classified as motor vehicles and fall under the jurisdiction of US DOT rather than CPSC, so they would have a lot more safety regulations to deal with before they could be sold. At a curb weight of at least 600 pounds with two riders, 750 watts won't be enough to get it up a decent hill at much more than walking pace. The canopy has no windshield wiper and since it's segmented, can't have one fitted. Finally, the canopy is big and the vehicle has full coverage bodywork, which means it would quickly become an oven on any sunny days that are warmer than about 70º.
Luke McNeilage
The Cyclone looks like the electric car designed by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. Gadgeteer is right in that it is too wide, if it is slow. Why persist with the "car" footprint, why not put drive and passenger inline like a motorbike or a fighter plane. Less resistance. That's been a lot of work and I compliment the finish... but, really
GiolliJoker
"The Cyclone looks like the electric car designed by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear." LOL! To me it recalls a lot Fred Flinstone's car... same concept.
Mary Arneson
We've owned velomobiles - - in Minnesota - - since 2003 and have ridden in many different types, including the nearest comparable vehicle to these behemoths, the Twike. We also provided road support for the ROAM Pacific to Atlantic velomobile tour that crossed the US in less than 30 days, averaging over 120 miles a day on pedal power alone. Why do these people ignore existing technology and reinvent whole systems (poorly)? Why do they load their vehicles down with useless weight? Why do news media keep reporting this sort of thing as innovation?
Germano Pecoraro
I am puzzled. Can two people ride such a vehicle? What muscular effort is required? And the wind pressure side?
Vadim Romanovich
I don't understand why limit it to 25mph? If I could replace my car with one of these rides but capable of doing 45mph or 55mph, I would be first in line (assuming a reasonable price tag of ~$5k). I know most will say that it would be unsafe at those speeds and what about trucks and cars running you over... well going 25mph you are more likely to be run over. I currently use an electric assist bicycle that is able to do 32mph and that works ok because I'm able to go on the right side of the lane and share with cars. But a slow car like contraption isn't practical or safe.
Paul Axford
Bicycle wheels can be a poor choice on a four-wheeler as they can't withstand significant side loads. The narrow rims twist and catastrophically collapse. With spokes it's better to use a wider rim whose section is stronger in torsion. And what's with the knobby tyres? Why not road slicks?
VoiceofReason
Have to agree with Luke. An inline makes more sense. Seating like a Cobra helicopter where the rear seat is slightly raised to allow the person in the back seat a better view. That would also allow a larger battery under both seats. A complete electric drivetrain makes more sense as it would be sealed and zero maintenance. A micro-usb could allow cellphone charging as well as the cell to function as the vehicle computer.