Peter has written an article on the future of cars for The Conversation.
Over the weekend our web site Trevipedia.net disappeared, due to an administrative bungle with the domain name. It is back now, but prompted us to consider moving to a Google Site instead of the current MediaWiki site. If you are, or would like to be, a Trevipedia contributor, you can try the new site and let us know what you think.
Earlier this year we were contacted by an organisation in Zimbabwe enquiring about the possible use of solar-powered vehicles for transporting pregnant women from rural villages to health care facilities. Our initial reaction was that off-the-shelf petrol vehicles or golf carts would be more versatile and reliable. But petrol and electricity are too expensive and often unavailable in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. One of the factors that contributes to the high maternal death rate is the difficulty that expecting mothers have in getting from rural villages to health care facilities such as delivery hospitals. Almost half of the births in the Mashonaland Central region are delivered at home without formal medical assistance.
We are currently working to design, develop and demonstrate a system for transporting expecting mothers from rural villages to health care facilities. The system will comprise vehicles that can be used to transport women to and from health care facilities, and a system for scheduling and managing the vehicles to maximise their effectiveness.
Because of the high cost and low availability of fuel or electricity to power vehicles, the vehicles will be powered by human and solar power. Bicycles with trailers are being used in some parts of Africa for patient transport, but speed and range are limited by the endurance of the rider. We will investigate the use of electrically-assisted cargo bikes with trailers, or custom designed low-energy vehicles based on readily-available components, with solar panels for recharging batteries.
The key vehicle requirements are:
vehicles will service villages within 30 km of a health care facility, and travel up to 80 km per day
vehicles must transport the rider, the patient and an accompanying friend
vehicles must be capable of travelling on unsealed roads and tracks at speeds up to 30 km/h.
If you are interested in being involved in this project, contact Andrew: firstname.lastname@example.org
With Zero Race well and truly behind us, and with Trev back in Adelaide, Team Trev is focussing now upon activities closer to home.
First up, we need to get Trev re-registered in South Australia. When we registered prior to departing for Zero Race, the assessor said that we’d need to complete a lane-change test prior to driving on Australian streets again. We’ve upgraded the front suspension over recent weeks and we undertook a successful swerve test last week, so we hope to be back on the road very soon.
Our next plan is to use Trev for urban commuting, which after all is what it was originally designed to do. We plan to install data loggers in the car to record energy use, then share the car amongst team members to commute and use for their everyday driving, one week each.
With Trev out and about on the streets of Adelaide, we expect to get a lot interest in the car once again, which will give us the opportunity to share our story about Zero Race, and more importantly, to demonstrate that if a little green car can drive around the world in 80 days, it is also more than capable of commuting to and from work.
Trev-heads Chris and Alexandra are in Morocco. They have unpacked Trev, checked over the car, topped up the battery, and driven in the chaotic Casablanca traffic. Apparently they are not the only drivers unsure about which way to go around round-abouts.
Today they will drive to Rabat, the first stage of the final leg through Morocco, Spain, France and Switzerland to Geneva—the end of the first around-the-world Zero Race.
Trev has been in the Zero Race workshop since arriving in Lucerne on Thursday. Nick and Jason (now joined by Keith) have been working hard to iron out a number of issues in preparation for the race prologue later today.
Our Battery Management System has some glitches caused by corrosion and perhaps by some transit induced faulty connections. Trev’s tie-down points inside the shipping crate had pulled away from the surrounding timber, so perhaps it was a very bumpy flight across from Australia.
Yesterday we were lucky to have the assistance of Simon and family, expat Aussies living in Switzerland, who helped us to find and purchase various items locally. Thanks guys.
Are you keen to follow Team Trev’s progress in Zero Race but don’t necessarily remember to visit our website regularly? An email subscription may be the solution.
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A requirement of our participation in Zero Race is that we source 100% green power for our drive around the world. Being an electric car powered by renewable energy, our circumnavigation will effectively be emission free.
In reality, we will be charging from various electric grids along our circumnavigation route, and the energy we consume will be a mixture of coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind and solar generation. In effect we’ll be consuming a mixture of renewable and non-renewable energy but offsetting that with 100% renewable energy.
Trev requires approximately 70 Wh/km, so a 30,000km trip will consume approximately 2,100kWh (2.1MWh) of energy.
New Zealand based utility TrustPower has kindly donated this amount of green power to Team Trev, in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates and a cash donation. The energy will be sourced from TrustPower’s 98.7MW Snowtown Wind Farm in South Australia. This wind farm consists of 2.1MW wind turbines, so the amount of energy required to drive Trev around the world is generated by a single turbine in just one hour (at full power).
Team Trev is very grateful for TrustPower for its contribution towards our Zero Race campaign.
Recently, people we meet have been surprised to see us. They think we should be overseas somewhere, driving Trev around the world.
We still have a few months to go before Zero Race starts. The reason you haven’t seen us about lately is that the technical team has been spending a lot of time in the workshop preparing Trev for the big drive, and the logistics team has been busy doing everything else we need to do to prepare for the trip.
We have made good progress with Trev:
- fitted a new motor, wheel and suspension assembly to the rear of the car
- developed a new motor controller for our new brushless motor
- designed and almost finished building an improved suspension for the front of the car
- designed and are building a simpler, lighter electrical system, based on microprocessor controlled nodes communicating on a serial CAN bus
- designed and built a new dash display, with a 7-inch LCD monitor
- improved the canopy and hinge mechanism.
We have also made good progress outside the workshop:
- established a blog (you’re reading it!) and a mailing list
- secured some enthusiastic sponsors (but we still need a few more)
- formed an incorporated non-profit association (Team Trev Incorporated)
- opened a bank account
- made a short video clip—there are more coming
- had Trev on display in Rundle Mall, at the Tour Down Under, and at the CleverGreen conference, with plenty of coverage on TV, in the press, and on the web
- organised a public talk by Zero Race director and Solar Taxi driver, Louis Palmer
- made dozens of lists of all the things we have to do before, during and after the race.
There is still plenty more to be done, both in the workshop and in the “office”. (We don’t really have an office—we use email, Google Wave and other internet tools to communicate, and occasionally meet at events or in cafes.
It is a lot of effort, but we think it is worth it.
Since unveiling Trev in 2005 we have had many enquiries from people wanting to build their own.
Our aim has always been to demonstrate the idea and encourage others to build upon and improve our ideas. The car we drove from Darwin to Adelaide in 2007 was simple and effective, but there was still plenty of room for improvement. In July 2009, Matt Green from Melbourne gave us a kick along by setting up a web site—Trevipedia—on which we could document our good ideas, and enthusiasts from around the globe could help improve the design.
Trev is an “open source” car. Plans and design details are freely available online on Trevipedia, and we encourage everyone to use our designs to design and build their own Trevs, and to share any improvements and ideas with other “Trev Heads”.
Building a roadworthy car is not an easy undertaking, but we are continually improving the design to make it as simple as possible. Ultimately, we hope someone will develop kits or even complete vehicles.
A key advantage of Trev is that it uses a lot less energy than conventional cars. This means that not only can you build it yourself, you can also power it yourself. An average daily commute in Adelaide is 32 km, and will require about 2 kWh of energy to recharge. A 500 W photovoltaic panel on the roof of your house will generate enough electricity each year to keep you mobile.
Imagine that. A car you can build yourself and power yourself.