The many hours spent in the workshop have paid off. The conversion and implementation of the solar-powered drive has been successful, the Ape drives! This step marks a milestone in this project and answers the key question in the initiation of this project, “Is there a way to enable sustainable and cost-effective mobility for Gambia?” – The answer is “YES!”
In cooperation with the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, a solar-powered drive was developed and constructed. A reversed truck alternator serves as a motor and is powered by a battery. With the help of a solar system, solar energy is generated for additional support. The control and main element is the “black box” consisting of an Arduino, controller and potentiometer.
After the excellent preparatory work of the teams from the previous semester in which the heart of the project was developed, the team GASOLEN 22/23 set new goals to advance the project. The idea was clear, in order to create the possibility of independent and individual mobility, it had to be possible to implement the drive in a marketable vehicle made of old parts. But which vehicle is suitable?
This was followed by an intensive period of brainstorming, because a vehicle had to be chosen that would meet the requirements and circumstances of the country. In addition, it should meet the needs of the people in Gambia, as the vehicle must not only be used for locomotion, but also as a means of transport.
The choice was also made dependent on the nature of the roads and infrastructure in Gambia. A heavy vehicle would be out of the question, as the risk of getting stuck in the ground is too high. Nevertheless, it should offer enough space for transport and be similar to the vehicles that are mainly found in Gambia. The choice fell on the model “Ape” of the brand “Piaggio”. The lightweight construction and the large loading space were perfect for the project. In addition, it resembles a motorized “rickshaw” which is often used in Gambia.
The team found a model in a very bad condition, but the elements needed were all there.
This was followed by a long period of conversion in which the existing drive had to be removed in the first step. By using and converting the removed parts, costs could be saved. In the next step, the drive was implemented and a new solar roof was constructed to generate solar energy. In the spacious loading area it was easy to find a place where the elements were placed and thanks to a double floor, cargo can still be transported.
Since the team also had the requirement of a video instruction which makes it possible to install such a drive independently, each work step had to be documented with image material. Even though the effort was considerably increased, it was worth it and the colleagues persevered. Team GASOLEN was very proud when the conversion was completed and the vehicle drove out of the driveway of the workshop.
Mobility for everyone in Gambia is one step closer!