Anyone who has traveled to India knows about the massive amount of chaotic traffic on the streets. Crossing the road in Delhi is a terrifyingly heart-stopping adventure. Instead of motorcycles and cars, many people opt for the conveniences of a rickshaw. But, this being the 21st century, some inventors have come up with a version that’s a little more high tech than the old pedal-driven kind.
The Soleckshaw is still in the trial stages, but the solar powered rickshaw has already people talking and contemplating what the technology could do if these vehicles replace the human-powered kind. The Indian prototype by the Center for Science and Industrial Research has been running in trial stages since October. The dual-powered cycle operates by pedal power and a 36 V 240-350 W battery that gets charged at a solar charging station. It has a carbon footprint of zero, so it doesn’t pollute any more than the traditional version.
The solar version reaches a pretty impressive speed of about 15 kilometres per hour and, fully-charged, the battery can keep going for 50-70 kilometres. The goal is to develop the current four Soleckshaws into more advanced models in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
If a manufacturer is found to mass produce the Soleckshaws, however, some worry that they would be too expensive for most rickshaw pullers. Each Soleckshaw is expected to cost 2.5 times more than the traditional ones, though the Indian government has offered guaranteed loans for drivers who want to buy them. It’s also unclear who will pay at the solar charging stations will the drivers be expected to pay for their own electricity?
Modeled in some ways after the SolarCab, which was developed in London and set to launch next year, the rickshaw will also be outfitted with solar panels on its roof. But with a unique decorative flair of their own, the Soleckshaws have animated Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck stickers painted on their sides. An added bonus of the solar rickshaw is that the battery can recharge riders’ mobile phones as they zip from one destination to the next.
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