Today’s release of the first full-length Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) trailer brought great excitement to the Webber Energy Group. A set prop built by group member Charlie Upshaw and Josh Rhodes is featured in the trailer and the film (albeit temporarily obscured by explosions). Their device is a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), constructed on the campus of UT Austin.
Vertical axis wind turbines have several advantages over horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT). VAWTs can generate power from omni-directional winds, unlike HAWTs which must be pointed into the wind. Because the rotational axis is vertical, generators can be positioned near to the ground. However, VAWTs are prone to more stress and failure, so there are some tradeoffs. Producers have yet to experiment with wide-scale deployment of VAWTs, but their appearance in the future-oriented Transformers saga, is evidence that Webber Energy group members are changing the way the world thinks about energy.
Below Upshaw stands with the completed prop (top), and Rhodes contemplates the project in progress (bottom). Fast forward to 1:14 in the trailer to see the prop in action.