Solar powered Rickshaws

It’s being touted as the poor man’s Nano. Powered by solar energy and pedals, eco-friendly Soleckshaw rickshaws hit the streets on Thursday. Designed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in eight months, these rickshaws will be battery operated. ‘‘The battery that’s inbuilt will be charged by solar energy. It will transmit the energy to a gear system which will move the three wheels of the rickshaw. Though pedalling is not required, if pedalled the Soleckshaw will gain more power,’’ said A Roy, who was part of the team that developed the new rickshaw.Hailing the innovation and its affordability for the underprivileged, Union science and technology minister Kapil Sibal said: ‘‘There is a need for urban transport which is comfortable and affordable for the underprivileged. The Soleckshaws will be their Nano.’’ Swifter and environment-friendly, Soleckshaws are, therefore, being seen as the new face of urban transport for short distance rides to neighbourhood schools and nearby Metro stations from home. Inaugurating the Soleckshaw at Chandni Chowk, chief minister Sheila Dikshit said: ‘‘It’s a sturdy mode of transport which is functioning on clean energy. We will discuss with the police on where all it can ply and for how much distance.’’ Hoping that the corporate sector will step in to manufacture these rickshaws for their low pricing and environment-friendly technology, Sibal said: ‘‘They can be used near the Taj Mahal and other monuments as their carbon foot print is zero. It is expected that the rickshaw-puller will be able to earn more than Rs 4000 a month and these rickshaws will not be as physically taxing for them.’’ Complete with mobile recharging facilities and FM radio, these rickshaws cost Rs 7,000 — the same as the old ones. In Delhi, the Centre for Rural Development (CRD), an NGO, will drive the pilot project. Dr Pradip Kumar Sarmah, CRD executive director, said: ‘‘We are hoping to start using the four rickshaws launched today between Red Fort and Old Delhi Railway Station and the charge will be Rs 15. This will be a pre-paid service.’’Director general, CSIR, Samir K Brahmachari said: ‘‘The advanced versions of the Soleckshaws will have better aesthetics and a speed of 15kmph and will be ready for a full-fledged launch before the Commonwealth Games 2010. This pedicab is easy to drive on plain as well as uphill roads.’’ The Soleckshaws were flagged off at Durgapur on August 17.The battery re-charge station has been made near the Chandni Chowk Metro station and a rickshaw-puller will be given an alternative battery while his battery is being re-charged. It will cost Rs 45 to get the battery re-charged — which can run till 70 km before dying out.Said Brahmachari: ‘‘The designs of the new rickshaws can be copied by anyone. But quality control can be done as the motors as well as batteries will bear the standard logos . We hope that the cost of the rickshaws is around the same as that of the current rickshaws which are priced at around Rs 7,000 as we will earn carbon credits for them.’’CSIR is also looking at possibilities of modifying the rickshaws plying currently so that they can be made battery-operated.
Power source : Solar energy, pedalling. Assisted by an in-built electric motor.
Design : Better aesthetics, made of advanced fibre and equipped with mobile recharging facility and FM radio.
How it moves : Chain driven.
Brakes : On all three wheels .
Seating : Two passengers with a payload of 200kg excluding the driver.
Speed limit : 115kmph .
Weight of the rickshaw structure : 115kg

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