17 October 2016
Africa is facing rapid urbanization, and if we look at Namibia, our public transport needs a lot of work. Currently, 50% of us take taxis to get around. Cars, generally, are a huge source of carbon emissions.
The Innovation Design Lab at the Namibia University of Science and Technology has been working on some cool stuff lately. They have developed the first Namibian Solar Electrical Utility Vehicle, prototyped and designed in Namibia. A solar taxi based on African needs. The lightweight vehicle runs with a zero carbon footprint. It captures solar energy with solar voltaic cells and stores them in lithium-ion batteries.
The little guy weighs about 200 kg, can take a load of 300 kg, and seat four people comfortably. Its speed goes up to 50 km/hr and it can run for 100 km before it needs a charge. The cost is looking at around N$ 50,000.00.
The NUST research team, among them 15 students, was divided into five groups: 1- mechanical, 2- solar panel and lithium-ion batteries, 3- software and interfaces, 4- electrical and electronics, and 5- composites. It took them six months (they actually finished a month and a half before schedule).
In the next 30 months they will be building five more prototypes based on the lessons learned from the former ones. The strategy is to go lighter, more user friendly, more efficient, and end up with a sustainable solar taxi that operates with a zero carbon footprint.
I had quite an inspired look at the Innovation Design Lab's facebook page
, and they have a great little video showcasing the solar taxi here
Picture credit: Pio Barone Lumaga.