Our perception of how wind can interact (and transmit energy to) a moving vehicle would tend to put limits on the vehicle's speed. If you're rolling downwind on level ground, it would make logical sense for you to be able to travel about as fast as, but no faster than the wind itself. Cavallaro has no concern for these limits, and invites us to think of wind-powered transportation in a different way.
Believe it or not, Rick's tri-wheel, propeller-powered concept supposedly makes use of the wind's force to drive itself faster than the wind is moving. The propeller and wheels work together to move the vehicle. The group has documented speeds up to almost 3 times the speed of the wind.
I'm going to stop there and admit that I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced. It's not because I don't believe it's possible, but more because I'm quite confused. Even so, it's got me wondering... will we see wind propelled hybrids some day? Wind is a 100% emission-free source of energy, so it's certainly an attractive option. What are your thoughts? Do you buy Rick's claims, or is it all just a bunch of black magic and number fudging? Take a look at the team's blog for lots more pictures and details on the project.
[Images: Rick Cavallaro]