Do you know what Rickshaw means ? The name “Rickshaw” comes from the Japanese expression, "ji riki shaw" which means "vehicle powered by man". The concept of the rickshaw first came to China, then India and throughout and all of Asia.
No more are Rickshaws powered by man (except some parts of North India), but by highly polluting 2 stroke motors ! I am sure most of you have experienced the thick black smoke emanating from “Dugdugis” or “6 seaters” or even normal Auto Rickshaws. The amount of pollution caused by these vehicles has to be seen to be believed.
However, there seems to be good news –
Rickshaws powered by solar energy could be your next mode of transport, courtesy of a Commonwealth initiative. The Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) has set up an incubation hub in partnership with the Indian government to develop cutting edge energy-saving technologies, it announced Tuesday.
The hub, which also involves the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad, the UK Carbon Trust and British Petroleum’s Alternative Energy Group, will work on technologies that will be designed for Indian city and rural living, as well as transport. (source)
And its not only CBC that has taken the initiative – A London-based research and design company Solar Lab is also working on a solar-powered rickshaw that will be the first human powered hybrid vehicle – combining pedal power with energy from rooftop photovoltaics. (source)
Even here in India there are couple of initiatives that are currently under experimentation. Soleckshaws, as they are known, have been developed that run on solar-powered batteries, and were introduced early in October 2008 in Delhi by the Assam-based Center for Rural Development (CRD).
Another prototype of a normal Auto Rickshaw converted to use the Solar power.
Now thats really a good news – non polluting, energy efficient Rickshaws would be great for our environment.
Its not going to be easy though, Indian already has close to 10 million of these vehicles currently on roads. To commercially develop these vehicles, and get them on roads is a tough long drawn task. However, everything needs to start somewhere. Maybe we start seeing fruits 10-15 years down the line.
Offcourse, don’t forget, we are already seeing a lot of research on Water and Air powered cars as well.