Design Workshop

15 Feb

On Wednesday evening, 9 members of our technical design team came together to hear about Andrew’s trip to Zimbabwe, to learn more about the technical & operational requirements, and in particular to view videos and photos of the roads.

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This is going to be a very challenging project. The poor state of the roads and the large distances between health facilities present us with enormous technical challenges.

One of the issues is with tyres and wheels, which will need to be robust enough to survive the punishing road conditions, but will also need to be light and readily available in Africa. Our entire design process will actually start with the selection of the tyres, and will then extend out to the rest of the vehicle platform.

The other challenge is energy. In a petrol vehicle, there is so much calorific energy in the liquid fuel that vehicle weight is rarely a major consideration. (That’s why we see such big and heavy cars.) In solar powered electric vehicles, weight is hugely important. The heavier the vehicle, the bigger the battery needed to store enough energy to drive it, and the bigger the solar PV panels and batteries required to capture and store enough energy from the sun. The greater the energy requirements, the greater the cost.

Next weekend we will take Trev into the the Adelaide Hills to drive on dirt roads with similar conditions to roads in Zimbabwe, and we will record the energy and power consumption. This will provide an indication of energy and power requirements for the African Solar Taxi.

We will convene the design team again in early March, to continue the high level design process.

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