Second design workshop

7 Mar

Last night 11 members of our design team came together for another technical design workshop. It was a really productive night.

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We had a lot of discussion about wheels, which will need to be strong enough to survive the very rough roads and yet be lightweight, reliable and easy to maintain. We are lucky that John M has recently join our team, because he has a wealth of experience with designing, building and racing All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in offroad conditions.

We discussed the recent weekend session in which we drove Trev on dirt roads and measured its energy use. Trev with one person weighs approximately 400kg, which is about the intended weight of the African Solar Taxi with three people and basic luggage. Trev’s energy consumption on dirt is approximately 60Wh/km. We think that a 3kW motor should be sufficient to drive at about 30-40km/h but we’ll need more off road trials with Trev to know with more certainty.

The two UniSA Industrial Design students working the project, Andrew C and Justin, will produce a full scale MDF mockup of the seating layout, so we can get a realistic feel for the size of the vehicle. The only dimension we know at this stage is the spacing between wheels, approximately 1350mm, so the vehicles can drive on Zimbabwean dirt roads in the wheel ruts created by ox carts.

We are thinking a lot about suspension and chassis designs too, and will continue researching options before coming together again next week for another design workshop. We are keen to make rapid progress at this early stage, so that we can start prototyping, testing and validating our ideas.

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