In spite of the enormous popularity gained due to their lesser traveling time and relatively cheaper fare, the battery operated rickshaws, pioneered by the Beevatech Ltd, have been banned from commercialization due to their energy consumption from our already overloaded national grid for charging their batteries. Housing a 48V brushless DC motor and a 48V 20Ah battery bank (factory default) these rickshaws can consume over 960Wh of energy from the national grid each time they are charged, the accumulation of which for the total number of rickshaws currently running countrywide is highly significant. In the current design of these rickshaws, the power supply to the load is controlled by a throttle system like motorcycles which has led to complete elimination of the human effort for running the rickshaw as opposed to reducing the human effort which was the original target. This in turn has led to higher energy consumption from the battery bank and consequently from the national grid as the battery energy is depleted more frequently.
In response to this predicament, CARC has conducted a research on making these rickshaws completely independent of the national grid through the use of solar energy and a newly developed technology and the birth of the pilot project “Power Conservation for Electrically Assisted Rickshaw-Vans with PV Support, Torque Sensor Pedal and Solar Battery Charging Station”took place. The research was conducted in a threefold approach:
- Replacing the throttle system by a torque-sensor paddle to eliminate the over-use of the battery bank
- Providing a share of the load power through PV array assistance
- Implementing a solar powered battery charging station
A prototype rickshaw with these technologies has already been designed where each of these technologies has been implemented individually and tested for performance. It has been seen that the torque sensor pedal system and the PV array support system can save individually approximate 50% energy consumption by the rickshaw and the solar battery charging station can fully charge 50% discharged batteries within one day.
Encouraged by the results, CARC is now designing battery operated rickshaw vans which will be used for several different purposes – human hauler, cargo hauler and ambulance.