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And the James Dyson Award goes to... Electric Cargo Trike

By Catherine Knowles
Fri 20 Sep 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

New Zealand’s James Dyson Award has been won by Electric Cargo Trike, a project driven by six industrial design students.

As it stands, the Electric Cargo Trike is a compact tilting electric urban delivery vehicle, designed for last minute cargo delivery in urban settings.

The innovation intends to solve a multitude of problems faced by New Zealand cities, the team states. This includes environmental issues, efficient package delivery and safety for couriers.

According to the team, inner-city delivery methods are often hindered by poor handling and safety issues, and there is a growing need for a better solution in New Zealand and abroad.

In addition, traditional delivery vehicles cost companies and consumers due to expenses such as road taxes, petrol, parking permits and time, and also lost productivity due to traffic and limited availability of loading zones.

The environmental impact is also well documented with governments around the globe committing to a reduction in carbon emissions, particularly in bigger city centres, the team says.

There is also a growing demand for delivery services, especially in NZ’s biggest cities. In fact, according to a report by New Zealand Post, more than 60% of all online purchases are delivered to customers living in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Of these, 1.8 million Kiwis made online purchases that required delivery in 2018, and 44% of those online shoppers purchased more than once a month.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has seen an increase of EV vehicle sales over the past few years, signalling Kiwis commitment to sustainable vehicle solutions, the team says.

With New Zealanders increasingly dependent on delivery services for parcels, particularly with an increase of online shopping, the six-person team wanted to create a safe, sustainable option for those deliveries.

The creators, students at Massey University in Wellington, identified a gap in the market for sustainable package delivery alternatives, especially the last few kilometres in the delivery process, as these are the least efficient, according to the team.

The inspiration behind the vehicle was sports bikes and the increasing trend of Kiwis moving to more sustainable vehicles. From the initial inspiration to the final product the team tried many iterations and ideas.

Daniel Shorrock, one of the six team members, says, “We had four main prototypes, over 10 CAD [Computer-Aided Design] models, and countless sketches and Lego models getting to this final product.

"We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours over 12 weeks trying to make this the most effective, safest, and easy vehicle to use and we think we finally got there.”

Future plans for the Electric Cargo Trike see a range of possibilities including use on New Zealand farms.

“We see this working well within an agricultural context. Potentially replacing quad bikes with a vehicle that is much safer. The tilting mechanism makes it much harder for the vehicle to roll over and injure the driver,” the team says.

The ability to lean into corners make the vehicle much more stable at higher speeds, meaning it can handle obstacles such as speed bumps, rough terrain and curbs, according to the team.

Furthermore, the wishbone suspension has a large degree of travel while the two front wheels give the vehicle a lot of traction at the front. The three-wheeled setup also allows for more cargo capacity than a traditional motorcycle.

“It can stop faster, corner harder, and provide more stability than a normal cargo bike. This design also means packages are safer and are more likely to make it to their final destination undamaged. Plus, easily interchangeable batteries mean delivery downtime is kept to a minimum by allowing it to run all day with only short breaks needed to swap the batteries out.

“The idea is that you charge one battery at the depot while you’re out doing deliveries, and when you get low, you simply swap it out so you don’t have to wait for a battery to charge,” says Shorrock.

James Dyson Award judge Sir Ray Avery says, “This is an urban ute. Nobody has applied disruptive thinking to this type of vehicle before. This could become a transportation game-changer from a global perspective.

“Having spent a significant amount of my life in the developing world, I see a real need and opportunity for this design. The Electric Cargo Trike has a place in every developing country and is a great example of Kiwi applied technology."

The designers behind the project are Daniel Shorrock, Chris Warren, Fergus Salmon, Zoe Lovell-Smith, Liam Avery, and Oscar Jackson. They are all studying a Bachelor of Industrial Design at Massey University (Wellington).

The Electric Cargo Trike has been designed focusing on handling and driver experience. With their winning entry, the designers behind the delivery solution will receive NZ$3,500.

Shorrock says, “We’re excited that Electric Cargo Trike has been recognised by the James Dyson Award, we now hope to further its development to offer more sustainable deliveries in the future.

”We love how James Dyson set out to solve problems, which is exactly what we set out to do. Our product went through an extensive iterative process and sustainability is very important to us, so this competition was a great natural fit for us.”

The runners up in the competition are Nah Yeah Buoy and BOU.

Nah Yeah Buoy, by Hannah Tilsley and Chamonix Stuart of Victoria University of Wellington, identified the problem that approximately 80% of Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s 1,000 annual rescues are caused by rip currents, and studies show that drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand.

Their solution is a product that helps detect a rip current to warn beachgoers of the hidden dangers to prevent drownings and rescues due to rip currents.

The Nah, Yeah Buoy is an adaptive system that identifies rip currents near beaches, visualises the locations and movements of the current, and provides interactive alerts and warnings for lifeguards and water users.

BOU, by Sian Hosking Berge of Massey University School of Design, recognised that children at preschool age learn best through stimulating play, however modern life means there is less opportunity to learn and build than previous generations.

The solution, BOU, provides an opportunity for children to create their own useable product. It’s a kitset ride-on for 2-5 year olds, providing a learning experience for young children and the opportunity to build their own toy.

All three entries will now progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award with the hope of winning up to NZ$55,000 and NZ$9,000 for their university.

Their entries will be judged by a panel of Dyson engineers who will select an international shortlist of 20 entries. The Top 20 projects are then reviewed by Sir James Dyson, who selects the international winner.

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