Recumbent Vehicle Design Team’s Tricycle Could Help Commuters Go Green

Designed and built by USC Viterbi’s student-run Recumbent Vehicle Design Team, this 6-foot-long, 3-foot-wide tricycle is completely pedal powered and can often be seen rolling around campus. The recumbent design has ergonomic and aerodynamic advantages, while a self-stable tricycle arrangement improves practicality. It uses a joystick steering mechanism, making driving it similar to playing a video game.

Each year, the team competes in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Human
Powered Vehicle Challenge in Pomona, California. The two-day event gives students the opportunity to apply engineering design principles by building a competitive vehicle and exploring sustainable transportation alternatives.

At its debut in 2015, the USC Viterbi team finished fifth overall. This year, for their senior design project, team members Mary Bussel, Alex Dulin, James Gabbard (pictured here with Phil Thoenen, Neta Glaser and Patrick Ortiz) and Clarice Pumerantz developed an energy recovery system to store and reuse kinetic energy lost during braking. They believe it will improve their lap time and help them return to top 5.