Now after over 100 years of the rickshaw era, scientists at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi have found a pollution-free solution to end the bane of this large populace by developing solar electric rickshaw, named as ‘Soleckshaw’. It is a rickshaw that is driven partly by pedal and partly by electric power supplied by a battery that is charged from solar energy. The initiative has come as a small step towards improving life of 800 million people who are living below the poverty line, including 8 million rickshaw-pullers. Though auto rickshaws, vehicles driven on fossil fuel, are also an economical means of transport and are used by millions of commuters, soleckshaw with its zero carbon footprint promises cleaner environment, providing quality of life for rickshaw-pullers without any reliance on fuel.
Soleckshaw has been developed by a team of scientists at CSIR national laboratory (read our earlier coverage), Central Mechanical and Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) in Durgapur, West Bengal. The CMERI team has designed it to be a stable and safe vehicle which can be driven economically. The pedicab is motor-assisted and therefore is likely to be driven easily both on plain area as well as uphill, without any risk of imbalance which currently all rickshaws suffer from. The override mechanism on the rear axle ensures that both the rear wheels supply equal traction, making up for the balance of the vehicle and ease in taking turns. One of the main aims of soleckshaw is to reduce the effort required to pull a rickshaw. The 36V motor has been used to ‘assist’ the driver in pedalling. Even though it may not relieve him of pedalling, it will definitely make the task almost effortless for him.
So how does the entire machinery work? There is a brush less direct-current (BLDC) motor controller at the centre of the soleckshaw’s handle. After the connection is established, the driver needs to start pedalling the soleckshaw and then rotate the throttle to get the power at the front wheel. Near the throttle on the right handle a push button is provided to select between two drive modes. The driver can first pedal and then turn the throttle to get assistance from the BLDC motor while pedalling or he could use the throttle first for minimal assistance from the motor and then begin pedalling.
The new pedicab with seating capacity of two passengers and a payload of 200 kg (including the driver) is expected to speed up to 15 kmph. The rear wheels of soleckshaw are manually driven while the front wheel is driven by BLDC electric hub motor which is mounted on the wheel. The motor, which weighs approximately 5 kg, is powered by 36V, 18AH lead acid battery which is charged by solar energy.
What is interesting to note is that Soleckshaw vehicles will be used to ferry Common Wealth Games’ athletes and finance minister has even proposed to provide concessional excise duty of 4% to the vehicle.
What’s your take on this innovation?