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Insert Coin: Atlas human-powered helicopter gunning for elusive Sikorsky prize (video)

Steve Dent , @stevetdent

In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.

The AeroVelo group, a team of students and professional engineers, wants its Atlas helicopter to hover for one minute, reaching at least three meters (10 feet) powered by human muscle alone. If the grunt-powered machine succeeds, it'll nab the American Helicopter Society International's $250,000 Sikorsky Prize, which has gone unclaimed since it launched in 1980 -- with the best efforts barely leaving the ground. But the University of Toronto-based team reckons it has the chops, with two PhDs aboard and Snowbird, the first successful human-power ornithopter, under its belt. The Atlas will feature four rotors like a 1994 design from Japan, which flew for 19 seconds, a simple and stable configuration that required less pilot power than other models. The would-be flyers have rustled up more than $27k toward the $30k target with 35 hours left, so if you'd like to help out -- and fulfill the dream of eccentric inventors everywhere -- hit the source link for details.