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Watch Cyclists Charge a Tesla With Nothing but Human Power

Popular Mechanics logo Popular Mechanics 28/05/2020 Daisy Hernandez
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  • A Finnish inventor has come up with a new way to charge a Tesla: using human power.
  • Nine professional cyclists rode stationary bikes, which fed power into a charging station that juiced up the Model X.
  • Although the results provided very little charge to the vehicle, the project highlighted how human power can be harnessed to create energy.

In the future, you might be able to power your electric car simply by riding your regular bike. On a recent episode of a Finnish TV show, inventor Janne Käpylehto demonstrated a system that converts energy from nine bikes to power a charging station, which in turn powers a Tesla Model X. Watch the video above.

To test his system, Käpylehto enlisted nine pro track and road cyclists to pedal as hard as possible on stationary bikes for 20 minutes. From their sweat session alone, the cyclists generated just over 1 kilowatt of power to ultimately add a range of 1.2 miles to the Model X. Is that a lot? Of course not—but it's still something. And that's exciting.

a group of people in a room: Watch cyclists charge a Tesla Model X with nothing but human power. You can't get greener than this. © YouTube/Janne Käpylehto Watch cyclists charge a Tesla Model X with nothing but human power. You can't get greener than this.

There are different ways to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. In a thermal power plant, for example, water is heated to produce steam, which powers a turbine and creates electricity. In humans, a lot of energy is lost in the bodily processes that keep us alive, like breathing. That's one of the reasons we're not efficient producers of energy, unlike power plants, which are designed for maximized energy efficiency.

This isn't the first time pedal power has been used to generate electricity. In 2015, Olympian German track cyclist Robert Förstemann used his massive quads to toast a single slice of white bread. While he brought the bread to a golden-brown crisp at the end of his effort, he also brought himself to exhaustion:

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Traditional electric car charging won't be replaced with human-powered alternatives anytime soon, but it's still cool to know it's possible to boost your EV—and your toaster—all by yourself.

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